A shocking 4.9% of women will be diagnosed with ADHD in their lifetime. The other 96.1% of women with ADHD will face a lifetime of increased difficulty in making decisions, resulting in life altering consequences, such as unplanned pregnancies.
It is utterly frustrating when a doctor or a medical physician assume that girls have depression, anxiety, or a personality disorder.
Girls are quiet and keep to themselves. They are often distracted from their work, but because they are quiet, their distractive behavior goes without notice. Stephen Henshaw, a psychologist from the University of California, Berkely, begun studying girls with ADHD in 1997. After years of extensive research, he has been able to condense his research into one simple phrase, “You get referred if you’re noticeable, if you’re disrupting others.” At a young age, girls are taught to not be noisy, to keep to themselves and to do as they are told. Unfortunately, this has a detrimental effect on girls. They grow up thinking that if they are experiencing discomfort or mental stress, they are supposed to keep it to themselves.
Girls face adversity every day. It is utterly frustrating when a doctor or a medical physician assume that girls have depression, anxiety, or a personality disorder. Women are often overlooked when they are experiencing symptoms of ADHD. Misdiagnosis for ADHD is very common. According to Keath Low, an expert in ADHD, “ADHD symptoms in girls are often viewed as character traits rather than symptoms of a condition.” Society has standardized white males to be the reference for recognition, meaning that when students go to medical school to become doctors, they learn how the human body functions primarily according to white males. This method is extremely out-dated and provides no aid when trying to diagnose women. Along with normalizing women having ADHD, there should be a greater diversity of case studies for students to go to medical school to become doctors; they should be learning about how different diseases and disabilities present differently depending on gender and ethnicity.
“ADHD is a condition that affects multiple aspects of mood, cognitive abilities, behaviors, and daily life”. ADHD is not a light switch that can turn on and off whenever. This disorder affects daily tasks. ADHD can often be challenging because of the mood swings and desire of wanting to complete many tasks at the beginning of the day and then not being able to complete any tasks by the end of the day. To many, ADHD sounds ridiculous, “Why can’t you just do your work?” “It’s not that challenging, you’ve done it before.” Parents, teachers, and friends are very important in everyone’s life, but sometimes loved ones can be oblivious to what’s going on in their daughter’s brain. Especially when she has been taught to keep going like nothing is wrong. ADHD makes daily life far more complex than is necessary and never goes away on its own.
Young girls have plenty strenuous activities or things going on in their life, school, homework, relationships, friends, family, and many more. Girls with ADHD experience all these stressful activities, but the way their brain works makes it harder for these girls to cope with their stressors. Young girls start overanalyzing situations, are unable to attend work or school, or their time is eaten up trying to be organized. These girls are sometimes sensitive to people around them, their environment, and many other things. It’s often extremely difficult with girls that have ADHD and are not getting any form of treatment to live life comfortably. Most ADHD patients choose to consume medication because it is one of the most effective ways to treat this disorder. Some medications help slow the brain down and is helpful when wanting to complete multiple tasks to stay on track. However, medication is not the only form of treatment: “Effective treatment for ADHD in adult women may involve a multimodal approach that includes medication, psychotherapy, stress management, as well as ADHD coaching and/or professional organizing.” Women who have ADHD want treatment because they do not like living with a disorder that makes their life strenuous and makes them more prone to anxiety and depression; the assumptive cause of their struggles in the first place.
ADHD is more common in women than doctors and physicians assume. Without proper treatment, girls will suffer the consequences of failure and unimaginable circumstances. Doctors avoiding diagnosing ADHD in girls is exceptionally disheartening and makes the women suffering feel incompetent. Experiencing a disorder in a different way does not mean you do have that disorder. Furthermore, normalizing that is crucial to move forward in getting women the proper treatment that they deserve.