Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been studied for decades and it is known that genetics plays a significant role in its occurrence and manifestation. Fathers with ADHD have a high likelihood of passing the genetic coding to their children. Upwards of 80% of ADHD is determined by genetic factors. We also know there is a higher rate of ADHD in boys versus girls at about 3 to 1 ratio. This notwithstanding, does ADHD manifest or appear differently in boys and girls?
What are the Manifestation Differences?
Interestingly, research studies do not find any differences in symptoms between boys and girls. There is only one set of symptoms and criteria for ADHD for both boys and girls. That said, there are differences in how these symptoms tend to manifest between the genders. Boys often exhibit external and hyperactive symptoms often presenting as very disruptive and accordingly are more easily identified and are referred for evaluations. Girls more commonly present with internalized symptoms which fall under the group of inattentive symptoms. As such, overall numbers bear out that boys are much more often diagnosed with hyperactive or combined type ADHD, where girls are typically diagnosed with inattentive type ADHD
Young girls are also more prone to internalizing symptoms leading to more internal psychological distress, low self-esteem, and feeling inadequate relative to peers. This can compound and lead to subsequent issues with depression and anxiety. Undiagnosed girls often end up having trouble and impairments in school, social relations, and intimate relationships.
Are Females Overlooked and Undiagnosed?
In general, as a group, girls and women are much more overlooked and undiagnosed. This often occurs because of how symptoms manifest. Many little boys stick out like a sore thumb given their disruptive, aggressive, and impulsive behavior and are easily identified by parents and teachers due to the hyperactive symptom manifestation. Young girls manifesting predominantly inattentive symptoms can easily fade into the woodwork and go unnoticed. Girls are also better at masking, covering symptoms, and employing some coping skills, which makes it harder to recognize issues.
In some instances, the internalized distress ends up manifesting as anxiety and depression, which become the focal point of concerned parties and treatment is focused on the depression and anxiety without effort to uncover underlying drivers, i.e., ADHD issues. Historically, girls were diagnosed about five years later than boys because they were not noticed as early. Old diagnostic criteria necessitated symptoms manifestation before age 7, which often precluded many girls. Since criteria were adjusted in the last decade to allow manifestation of symptoms before age 12, the diagnosis of ADHD in girls has gone way up. Historical prevalence rates were 25 to 1 and are now down to 3 to 1 for boys with ADHD relative to girls. As parents and educators understand how ADHD tends to manifest differently in girls, we may see those prevalence ratios decline further as young girls get the needed help they have been slow to receive.
If you are struggling with ADHD symptoms, feel free to contact IPC so you can schedule an appointment with one of our providers for a more thorough assessment. Please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you and complete a thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.
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