The Underdiagnosing of ADHD in Women

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The Underdiagnosing of ADHD in Women

ADHD affects both genders, but the gender gap in diagnosis and treatment often leaves young girls and women struggling with their ADHD symptoms longer than their male counterparts. One of the biggest problems facing this issue is the social stigma surrounding ADHD symptoms, even within psychiatric spaces. Today, we’ll look at why this occurs, the barriers women face in psychiatric care, and what must happen to change it. 

ADHD In Women: A Long-Standing Issue of Under-Diagnosis and Stigma

While there have been improvements in diagnosing and treating ADHD, ADHD in women causes more emotional turmoil due to its lack of proper diagnosis within psychiatric care. This is due to a variety of factors, including: 

  • Differences in Symptoms: Women can display inattentive symptoms such as forgetfulness, problems with organization, and issues paying attention, but are often ignored as they can coincide with other factors. For instance, girls will often have co-existing conditions such as anxiety and depression alongside their ADHD and have menstrual cycles that worsen their symptoms. Still, these factors can often mask their ADHD symptoms and lead to a delayed diagnosis. 
  • Poor Psychiatric Awareness: Some professionals can harbor the belief that ADHD is a condition that only affects boys and men, making it less likely for women to receive appropriate treatment. In best-case scenarios, an ADHD diagnosis can occur within their teen years. Still, many women have struggled for years beyond childhood without receiving a proper diagnosis due to improper advocacy within medical spaces. 
  • Women’s Social Expectations: Underdiagnosis of ADHD in women stems from childhood, as girls with ADHD often work to compensate for their symptoms due to social stigmas surrounding women. Their pressure to perform, be self-organized, and be in control over their lives is a societal expectation that continues to delay their diagnosis. 
  • Higher Emotional Costs: Women face significant emotional costs with a delayed or undiagnosed ADHD condition, as many women who struggle with their symptoms often suffer from poor self-esteem. 

While these problems continue to exist, some improvements have changed. According to the CDC, there’s been an increase in filed prescriptions for ADHD for privately insured women between the ages of 15 and 44 between 2003 and 2015. As the medical community is starting to wake up and see that ADHD is a larger problem than just conditions related to boys and men, what needs to change is how psychiatric care is received and how education about ADHD in women can be improved. 

Through this newfound awareness, women are starting to recognize and use it to their advantage, seeing symptoms of ADHD in their children and others. But what matters even more than their awareness is the respect they deserve when they believe they have ADHD in the first place. Psychiatric professionals need to work to recognize those symptoms in women to begin changing the statistics. 

Reach Out To Prestige Mental Health For An Appointment! 

If you believe you may have ADHD, visit Prestige Mental Health in Las Vegas, NV. At our practice, April Sullivan, NP provides a gentle listening ear and a deep understanding of ADHD and its effects on women. To learn more, schedule an appointment with Prestige Mental Health by calling (702) 945-2864. Call and schedule an appointment with Prestige Mental Health today for a consultation and proper diagnosis for ADHD. 

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April is the founder of Prestige Mental Health and is a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP-BC) who is qualified to practice primary care and psychiatry. She is passionate about providing quality, compassionate, and comprehensive mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults. April specializes in psychiatric illnesses including but not limited to depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, PTSD/trauma, bipolar, and schizophrenia.