One of the most common misconceptions about ADHD is that it is a condition that mostly – or only – affects boys. Girls are *equally* as prone to ADHD as boys are, but their ADHD diagnosis is often overlooked or mistaken for other issues.
One of the many reasons for this is that ADHD in girls and young women may manifest itself differently, which means that the symptoms that people look for with their ADHD diagnosis (not just parents, but also some clinicians without a lot of ADHD treatment experience) may be missed.
Symptoms of ADHD in Girls
Girls and young women tend to experience the cognitive side of ADHD more than the hyperactive side. They also may struggle with different emotions and thought processes than boys and young men may struggle with. It is important to work with practitioners that are experienced with ADHD and know how to pay attention to signals. Some of these signals and symptoms in girls may include:
- Cognitive Inattentiveness – Girls with ADHD may be more likely to exhibit internalized symptoms such as daydreaming, inattentiveness, and difficulty focusing. This can lead to their struggles being overlooked or attributed to other factors.
- Subtle Hyperactivity – Both girls and boys display hyperactivity, but girls tend to show it in more subtle ways, such as fidgeting with a pencil or their hair, or appearing to look restless when they are supposed to be sitting still. They are a bit less prone to larger physical outbursts or responses.
- Emotional Dysregulation – Girls with ADHD may be more susceptible to emotional dysregulation and may experience intense emotional responses. They may be prone to mood swings, anxiety, low self-esteem, or heightened sensitivity to criticism.
Other symptoms may be similar to boys, but may be attributed to different things in girls. For example, young women may experience executive function issues that are attributed to “being a teen” while those same issues with boys may be better attributed to ADHD. Girls with ADHD may also have social issues, just like boys, but because the dynamic in girl groups can be different – and because societal expectations of what “appropriate behavior” is for a girl may differ – the way that it is viewed by both clinicians and parents may not be the same.
Working with an Experienced Therapist
ADHD is a specific type of mental health condition, one that many parents are qualified to treat but very few specialize in. If you know or suspect that your child has ADHD, it is often a good idea to contact a therapist that understands the different symptoms and how they manifest in both girls and boys, and can identify those that may be struggling with ADHD, or another condition. Contact us today to learn more.