When I was a kid, not many of my classmates were diagnosed with ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). Those few classmates I knew who had ADHD were boys, and for years, I was under the impression that ADHD was not a condition that affected girls.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. In 2015, the CDC reported that roughly 6 million children in the United States had been diagnosed with ADHD. While boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed than girls, it’s important to point out that these numbers simply refer to a diagnosis. Let’s take a look at 5 things you may not know about ADHD in girls.
What You Need to Know about ADHD in Girls
- It’s not necessarily less common, but it is less diagnosed. Because ADHD in girls often presents differently (see the next point), parents may not realize that ADHD could be something their daughter is experiencing. Because parents have a misconception of what ADHD may look like, they may not bring up their concerns to their healthcare professionals, and these cases of ADHD may go undiagnosed.
- ADHD in girls may involve lack of focus rather than bouncing off the walls. Most of us know a boy with ADHD, and we have a pretty clear picture of how that boy behaves. ADHD in girls often looks different. Rather than having an overabundance of energy, a girl with ADHD may gaze out the window or seem lost in her own world. She may even be accused of daydreaming too often.
- Guilt and inner turmoil goes with the territory. Probably because ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in boys, girls who experience the condition may feel guilty or beat themselves up for being unable to focus. They feel it’s something they are doing wrong rather than the way their brains are wired. self-confidenceAs her parent, you need to help her understand that it’s nothing she did wrong and help rebuild her .
- Girls with ADHD may attempt suicide as young adults. A study published in 2012 showed a correlation between self-injury and suicide attempts in young adulthood for girls with ADHD. There is a certain expectation for girls to fit into societal norms, and being unable to do so prohibits a sense of belonging.
- ADHD in girls is also linked to an increased risk of an eating disorder. According to statistics published by ADDitude, “girls with ADHD have 5.6 times higher rates of bulimia, and 2.7 times higher chances of developing anorexia.” Pretty staggering numbers…
These facts and numbers break my heart. Childhood is hard enough, and for girls who have ADHD, just getting through the day may be a struggle. If you are concerned that your daughter may exhibit these quieter symptoms of ADHD, talk with your doctor about your observations. Hopefully, by receiving a diagnosis, you can help your daughter get the support she needs to know she is not alone.