Gender Stereotypes in ADHD

It’s remarkable how many articles about ADHD and ADD are out there on the vast Internet. Sometimes I can spend the whole evening reading and discovering new research that’s been announced on the subject! I love sharing certain articles that really stand out to me through this blog so if you want to keep track of what I’m reading, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter to catch up.

Today, I wanted to share this Quartz article about a new book by Dr. Ellen Littman, a clinical psychologist and co-author of Understanding Girls with AD/HD. The book shares an idea that many of might not think about -- ADHD has a gender gap.

The article says,

“ADHD materializes dramatically differently in girls. ‘Anxiety and depression turn into low self-esteem and self-loathing, and the risk for self-harm and suicide attempts is four-to-five times that of girls without ADHD,’ 2012 research shows…‘I think we have a lost generation of women who are diagnosed with ADHD later in life, who have had to manage the condition on their own and deal with it on their own for the majority of their lives,” Michelle Frank, a clinical psychologist and ADHD expert.”

The study claims that ADHD is harder to recognize in girls than in boys, because it materializes much later in life for girls. Most girls get misdiagnosed with depression or anxiety, which results in being prescribed the wrong medication and worsening their ADHD symptoms. On the other hand, Littman also suggests that boys in general are over-diagnosed with ADHD, while girls are being under-diagnosed.

While there can be more progress in awareness, the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding ADHD is become more well-known. “Not long ago, the ratio of diagnosed boys vs. girls with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder was 10 to 1. Today, it is between 4 to 1 or 2 to 1, Littman says.” Women are also starting to stand up and share more personal stories about what it’s like being misdiagnosed or being told that girls can’t have ADD.

Do you have a daughter who is diagnosed with ADHD or ADD? Do you agree that there are stereotypes even within this diagnosis? Let me know what you think and we can discuss what more can be done on a local scale, here in Honolulu. If you’d like to read more, you can find the full article here: