ADHD: Gender Disparities in ADHD Diagnoses

ADHD: Gender Disparities in ADHD Diagnoses

By Jackie Molan

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by hyperactivity, impulsive behaviors, difficulty paying attention, and high distractibility. ADHD is one of the most common disorders of childhood, but boys are much more readily diagnosed than girls. It is believed that the prevalence of ADHD across genders is approximately equal, even though formal diagnoses strongly favor boys. Females are often underdiagnosed with ADHD and misdiagnosed with other disorders, such as bipolar, depression, and anxiety. The symptom profile for ADHD is the same across genders, but the behavioral presentation of symptoms tends to differ greatly.

Females are more likely to exhibit more internalized behavioral symptoms, such as:

  • Daydreaming
  • Losing focus
  • Forgetfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Impatience
  • Low self-esteem
  • People-pleasing
  • Deep emotional reactions/overwhelm

Males, on the other hand, often display more external behaviors, such as:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Interrupting people during conversations
  • Losing items often
  • Anger outbursts

The external manifestation of ADHD symptoms makes the disorder more likely to be noticed in young boys by parents, teachers, and peers. Since young girls usually do not show such external symptoms, they tend to not receive a formal ADHD diagnosis until much later in life (if at all).

Regardless of gender, if you think you are experiencing any combination of ADHD symptoms, it is important to seek help from a mental health provider. A formal diagnosis from a professional can allow you to effectively manage your symptoms and improve daily functioning.

If you or someone you know is struggling with ADHD, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit



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