Target: The General Public
Goal: Stop overlooking the problem of of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in women.
The number of women aged 26 to 34 using medicine to treat ADHD rose 85 percent from 2008 to 2011, but it remains almost surely under-reported, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Ellen Littman. “Girls are being told still by pediatricians and primary care doctors that ‘you are a girl, you can’t get ADD,'” she said. ADHD diagnosis in women and girls is compounded by the fact that it tends to affect girls later than their male counterparts.
Everyone is seemingly aware of the ADHD stereotype: a little boy bouncing off the walls. What people don’t notice as much is the shy, distracted girl in the corner, or the chatty social butterfly girl talking to her friends. Both may also be suffering from ADHD or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Girls with ADHD are often overlooked because their symptoms express themselves differently. Hyperactivity–having too much energy and being disruptive with it–is not the disorder’s only symptom.
Female symptoms are typically disorganization and carelessness. Women with ADHD may face time and money management issues, feel stressed and overwhelmed, and have trouble with inattention and following directions. Their abilities don’t match their intelligence. Anxiety over these issues often results in depression and deep self-loathing. It’s difficult to think of yourself as smart when you constantly forget details or get distracted, regardless of your actual intelligence.
If more awareness about female ADHD is not spread, we will continue to see smart young women fail because they cannot control their disorder. Leaving the regulated life of school for the real world often brings ADHD issues to the forefront for women who had previously been able to manage or hide their symptoms. If we addressed these issues in childhood and were able to accurately diagnose women with ADHD, the symptoms’ severity in adulthood would be lessened. Please pledge to help spread awareness about the realities of this disruptive disorder in female individuals.
I am writing to inform you about women and girls with ADHD. Female ADHD or ADD might not look the way that you’d expect it to, but it is still a major problem. Paying attention only to the kids with too much energy results in the over-diagnosis of boys and the under-diagnosis of girls. It is easier to notice the disruptive children but it’s not necessarily better.
Just because girls might be able to control or hide the symptoms of their disorder for a while does not mean that they will always be able to do so, and it is far better to make mistakes as a child rather than as an adult. Undiagnosed ADHD can blow up in one’s face later in life, when the stakes are higher than a forgotten homework. Please sign this petition to help spread awareness for female ADHD.
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Photo credit: Sarah Driver