Are The Gender Differences in ADHD Symptoms Important? (Spoiler: Yes, Very).

Girls display fewer behavioural symptoms than boys, which means many go years before receiving a diagnosis. Read on to learn how ADHD manifests itself differently depending on gender.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood. It is caused by low levels of certain neurotransmitters, especially dopamine and norepinephrine. These imbalances lead to classic ADHD symptoms such as excessive talking, inability to sit still, concentration issues, and impulsivity.

While most children show signs of ADHD before the age of seven, many remain undiagnosed until adulthood. Unfortunately, a lot of these tend to be young girls. For example, studies show that boys are three times more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis than girls.

This isn’t because ADHD is more common in boys, but because boys with ADHD tend to exhibit external symptoms, such as impulsivity and aggression. Girls, in contrast, tend to struggle more with internal symptoms, such as low self-esteem or concentration problems. These can be attributed to many other issues, making it harder for parents and clinicians to spot.

Why Does Gender Impact ADHD Symptoms?

ADHD symptoms are often gender-specific because it is a neurodevelopmental condition, and as everyone knows, girls develop differently than boys. Further, ADHD involves neurochemicals that also play a crucial role in how we express ourselves. But as our environment and upbringing also impact these traits, gender norms can also influence how ADHD differs between boys and girls. The most stereotypical example is that young boys often express anger via physical aggression, whereas young girls tend to lash out verbally.

To help those concerned that their child may have ADHD or that you may have an undiagnosed case, we asked our experts to highlight gender-specific symptoms.

How to Spot ADHD in Girls:

Girls with ADHD aren’t usually that hyperactive. Instead, they tend to have the attention deficit part of the condition. For example, a young girl is unlikely to be disruptive in a classroom but often misses assignments or daydream excessively.

Other symptoms include:

  • Seeming withdrawn.
  • Intellectual difficulties.
  • Inattentiveness.
  • Verbal aggression (to others or it could also be towards themselves).
  • Trouble focusing.

Studies show that girls with untreated ADHD are at risk for low self-esteem, underachievement, depression, anxiety, addiction and eating disorders. It is also estimated that nearly 75% of cases of ADHD in girls are missed. Tragically, research also shows that young women with undiagnosed ADHD are three times more likely to attempt suicide or engage in self-harm.

However, these frightening statistics are significantly reduced when young women receive a diagnosis and receive adequate support, medication, and psychotherapy.

How to Spot ADHD in Boys:

In contrast to girls, boys with ADHD will be hyperactive. They will also exhibit the more classical signs such as:

  • Impulsivity (acting out).
  • Lack of focus and concentration issues.
  • Inability to sit still.
  • Physical aggression.
  • Frequently interrupting other people’s conversations and activities.

However, regardless of your gender, untreated ADHD will be a difficult condition to live with. It can make you exhausted and uncomfortable in your skin as you struggle to commit to your passions, relationships, or life. The toll this takes can lead to other mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression or substance abuse issues. However, ADHD is very treatable with adequate treatment and support.

If you think your daughter or son might have ADHD, seek professional advice as soon as possible. Finally, try to remember that ADHD occurs on a spectrum. If your child (or you) shows a few symptoms, but not all, it is still worthwhile to speak to a professional.

ADHD Treatment at Paracelsus Recovery

At Paracelsus Recovery, we provide in-depth and comprehensive ADHD treatment programmes.

Our psychotherapy team will use various techniques, such as mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy, to help you address any underlying issues, co-occuring conditions and create strategies for managing the ADHD symptoms. You will also work closely with our in-house psychiatrist and a live-in therapist who is available for emotional support 24/7. We can also prescribe medication if deemed necessary.

Decades of research shows that rest, exercise and nutrition are vital to make sure your ADHD symptoms remain manageable. To help you construct these foundational pillars of health, we will incorporate biochemical restoration and nutrition counselling into your ADHD care plan. We also provide various complementary therapies such as yoga, acupuncture and massage to restore your physical health and strengthen the mind-body relationship.

Click here to learn more or contact us at +41 52 624 63 33 for a confidential call about your needs.

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