5 Things You Didn’t Know About ADHD in Girls

Is there a difference between ADHD in girls and boys? Find out how it affects your daughter and how best to help her cope!Is there a difference between ADHD in girls and boys? Find out how it affects your daughter and how best to help her cope!

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

  1. 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. 
  1. 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.
  1. 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 .
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.

Do you have a daughter with ADHD or do you know a girl who has been diagnosed? What has your experience been?

16 thoughts on “5 Things You Didn’t Know About ADHD in Girls”

  1. I have recently been diagnosed with Adhd. I am glad to know I am not alone in this. Thank you for sharing, this has truly touched my heart.

  2. I was diagnosed as an adult with ADHD. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to have an actual diagnosis that attributed to my zoning out and impulsivity. Since getting my diagnosis, I was able to identify the same characteristics in my oldest daughter. She has now been properly diagnosed! Great article, and such an important one. Growing up with undiagnosed ADHD, was horrible. I was always called spacey, or class dip! Plus, my impulsivity got me into a lot of trouble.

  3. Wow! I never realized ADHD was different in boys and girls. Since I have both a son and a daughter his was useful information to know.

  4. Indeed ADHD is quite less and rather remains undiagnosed in girls. I never knew that they show saddistic symptoms, get lost in their own day dreams and are prone to suicidal tendencies. Great post for awareness.

  5. You are right, while we are led to believe that less girls than boys have ADHD it is indeed incorrect. We picture ADHD as ‘bouncing off the walls’ but like you said in girls it often means a lack of focus and being unable to concentrate for long periods of time x

  6. Annemarie LeBlanc

    Thanks for raising awareness. It is true that when people speak out about ADHD, it is usually boys that are shown having it. I think as parents, we must be very vigilant in noticing the signs, whether our child is a boy or a girl because ADHD is not gender specific!

  7. Hope this post reaches more people to spread awareness about this. Many people think that ADHD affects guys alone and ignore completely that it might affect girls as well, which makes these girls cope with their problem alone and even sometimes being blamed for not trying enough or not being serious etc, when actually they are doing the best they could.

  8. I did not know it’s less diagnosed in girls! We really should be more aware of this facts, some kids will struggle with no help!

  9. Style Over Coffee

    I don’t have kids but it’s really nice knowing so much about ADHD. I have seen mental illness of such kinds, specially in kids, often getting ignored as ‘normal’ behaviour. I will pass on this article to all my friends with kids. Thanks for sharing.
    Do drop by my blog as well : http://styleovercoffee.com :)

  10. No, but I have a son with ADHD. He hasn’t been officially diagnosed, but I had ADHD as a child and I think as an adult I’m living with it the best I can. I think because I don’t know what it’s like to not have ADHD, I don’t know how it truly affects me. But I see so many of the tendencies I had in youth affecting my son. I think my main problem as an adult, is following through with my own plans. I immediately think I’ll fail and won’t pursue it. I don’t know if that’s ADHD related. My other biggest downfall is that I hate being interrupted. So that I can focus if someone interrupts my train of thought or what I’m doing in the moment, I get really irritated.

  11. Oh my goodness, those statistics are hard to read. I’ve never really thought that a quiet girl may have ADHD but it does make sense. Thank you for educating me on this one.

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