ADHD: Why is it underdiagnosed in women?

By Argie Dabrowski

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent issues with concentration and attention, as well as frequent hyperactive and impulsive behavior. For many years, ADHD was believed to only affect young boys, but it is now known to affect both men and women of all age groups. Even today, though, ADHD is often underdiagnosed in girls, many of whom only get a diagnosis much later in life or not at all.

This underdiagnosis of ADHD in girls has multiple causes. Primarily, ADHD presents differently in girls than boys, with boys demonstrating symptoms more stereotypically associated with the disorder. When most people imagine ADHD, they think of a young child, calling out randomly in class, bouncing up and down in their desk, fidgeting, and unable to remain still. This image can make it difficult to pick up on ADHD in girls, who display it differently.

Girls tend to display more internal symptoms than external symptoms, as boys do. This is mainly through inattentiveness and daydreaming. Internal symptoms are more subtle and, therefore, difficult to pick up on in order to make a proper diagnosis. Additionally, girls with ADHD often display intense emotional responses, rather than typical impulsivity and hyperactivity. This can be misinterpreted as immaturity, so it is not often picked up on as a symptom of ADHD.

Oftentimes, as well, girls have co-occurring conditions that can cause ADHD to be overlooked. Girls and women with ADHD are more likely than their male counterparts to suffer from depression and anxiety. Both of these conditions can present with some symptoms similar to ADHD, such as restlessness and issues with concentration. All these factors combined make it difficult for women and girls to get the proper diagnosis and treatment for their ADHD, but with awareness and education, this can change.

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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:
psycom.net/diagnosing-adhd-girls-women/
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4195638/
bbc.com/future/article/20190530-why-is-adhd-missed-in-girls
childmind.org/article/how-girls-with-adhd-are-different/

Image Source:
healthline.com/health/adhd/4-signs-adhd-or-quirky#2

ADHD in Teens: Why Adult Support is Essential

By Stephanie Osuba

Common symptoms of ADHD lead people to believe that students that have been diagnosed willingly choose to not complete assignments or be inattentive during class. However, symptoms like forgetfulness, procrastination, distractibility, poor time management, and having a difficult time writing are exactly what prohibits a student from achieving academic success. By definition, these teens cannot manage their time on their own, not even with all the motivation in the world. And although these students want to be treated normally, it is important to intervene in order to teach them how to manage their ADHD and their lives.

Wanting to be “normal” often prevents these students from seeking the help that they need with assignments and time management. While school counselors mean well with their open office doors, it’s important to recognize when a student with ADHD is falling behind. The student, even if a need for help is stated, will often not follow through with appointments due to the lack of executive control and interfering symptoms like distractibility and impulsivity. Setting up a comprehensive academic plan with the teen takes the efforts of parents and teachers who constantly check in to make sure he or she is on track. How you can support a student with ADHD:

  • Promote independence: the end goal is to have the teen be able to keep track of assignments, organize himself, be able to take notes, study well, and mange his time by being able to break down projects. Have the student come up with his own plan for the school year and check in if it seems off base. Once a well-oiled routine is put in place, check in regularly.
  • Intervene early: always prompt students to solve academic problems immediately. It’s better to catch small mistakes and setbacks early on than to wait until they snowball out of control.
  • Provide guidance: you should aim to collaborate with the teen in finding solutions to any problem that arises, however, most need direct instruction at first. They need to be shown exactly what the outcome needs to be before they can decide on the best way to arrive at the desired solution.
  • Take the lead: students should be under adult supervision at all times. At school, it’d be teachers and counselors and at home it’s their parents or guardians.
  • Gradually withdraw supports: adult supervision shouldn’t be completely withdrawn until the student proves capable. Symptoms can cause poor executive function well through college because it largely interferes with academic skills no matter their age.

Source: M.D., M. B. (2018, September 24). The Pivotal Role of Adults in Teen ADHD Care. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/child-development-central/201809/the-pivotal-role-adults-in-teen-adhd-care 

If you or someone you know is struggling with ADHD, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. 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, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/