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ADHD Misdiagnosis in Girls Has Profoundly Negative Consequences

ADHD materializes dramatically differently in girls, with potentially serious negative consequences.


In Quartz, Jenny Anderson reports that girls’ ADHD symptoms tend toward inattentiveness and disorganization, vs boys who typically exhibit hyperactivity.

“Anxiety and depression turn into low self-esteem and self-loathing, and the risk for self-harm and suicide attempts is four-to-five times that of girls without ADHD,” 2012 research shows.

ADHD is a chronic neurobiological disorder which affects the brain structurally and chemically, as well as the ways in which various parts of the brain communicate with one another.

According to this Quartz article,

  • ADHD affected 7.3% of girls in 2011, compared to 16.5% for boys.
  • Girls tend to develop ADHD later than boys. They frequently mask it in an attempt to conform to society’s expectation that they are on the ball and organized.
  • While ADHD symptoms can become less intense for boys after puberty, for many girls, it gets worse.
  • Teachers and parents often miss the warning signs.
  • Failing to diagnose the condition, girls miss out on critical academic services and accommodations, as well as therapy and medication.
  • Many girls end up misdiagnosed and treated with anti-anxiety or depression drugs, some of which exacerbate the effects of ADHD.

According to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry study referenced in the Quartz article, there is “evidence that boys are wildly over-diagnosed with ADHD.”

Read “Decades of failing to recognize ADHD in girls has created a “lost generation” of women” on Quartz.

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