Tuesday, March 21, 2006

ADHD and Females

Today many researchers are complaining that even in the handbook of standard criteria for ADHD the gender base is not adequately addressed. Currently there are 3-5 boys diagnosed with ADHD for every one girl. That may be because girls with ADHD present themselves differently. They tend to be less aggressive and more likely to be very talkative. They also tend to be more depressed and more internalized than boys, who are externalized by doing such things as pushing, shoving, and running. Girls also tend to engage in sexual behavior at an earlier age than normal and face a higher risk of becoming pregnant.
In the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, one study suggests that the major symptoms of ADHD appear similar in both boys and girls, but girls are less likely to have the accompanying disruptive behaviors. This may be one reason that girls have a lower diagnosis rate. Researchers tested 140 girls with ADHD, whose average age was 11. They observed all of the typical symptoms which included inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. The most frequent symptom found was inattention. Girls with ADHD were found to also have a higher of other psychiatric disorders, such as behavioral, mood, anxiety, as well as an increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse. Rates of mood disorders were similar in both genders, but girls had a less tendency to be affected by disruptive conditions, such as oppositional defiant disorder. Girls are more cognitive in symptoms. Unlike boys, they may never by restless, hyperactive, or impulsive. And while boys tend to get more diagnosed than girls because they’re disruptive in class, girls will quietly space off and not bother anyone. Some studies have estimated that as many as half to three fourths of all girls with ADHD will go undiagnosed. Others speculate that may be one more reason girls, and women, are diagnosed with depression than are men.

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