Why Are Women Less Likely to Be Diagnosed With ADHD?

It's no secret that women are underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).


In fact, a recent study found that only one-third of all computer science graduates were female. And while there are many factors at play here — from cultural expectations to gender bias — it seems like another factor may be playing a role: ADHD.ADHD is more common among men than women; according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), boys with ADHD outnumber girls by about 3:1 [source: CDC].



But why? Is it because girls aren't as likely to exhibit symptoms? Or do they just go undiagnosed more often?" The answer is both," says Dr. William Dodson in an email interview. "Girls tend not to have hyperactive behaviour but instead tend toward being disorganised or forgetful. "Dodson has been treating children with attention deficit disorder since 1979 when he opened his first clinic in Washington D.C., where he saw hundreds of kids every week who had been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.


He later moved his practice westward and now runs The Center for Children & Adults With Attention Deficit Disorder near Seattle. "I've seen thousands upon thousands over my career," says Dodson via email interview about how many patients he's treated over the years who have had undiagnosed cases of ADD/ADHD going back decades before doctors started diagnosing them properly around the 1980s-1990s time period.


"It was very rare then if you didn't get diagnosed until your teens or 20s ... I'm talking maybe 1 percent got missed.


''There was also much less awareness then too so people would never even think their child might have this problem," adds Dodson via phone call after our initial conversation ends abruptly due to technical difficulties on my end during our second attempt at speaking together for this article series on mental health issues affecting adults today.


In addition, some studies suggest there may be biological differences between male brains versus female brains which could explain why males seem predisposed towards developing certain conditions such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) while females seem predisposed towards others such as depression and anxiety disorders.


"Women don't necessarily show up differently clinically either though we know they're different biologically based on brain imaging studies showing sex differences between men vs women using MRI scans etc.," explains Dr David Rabiner director emeritus at Duke University Medical Centre's Learning Disabilities Clinic by email correspondence regarding whether these biological differences could account for higher rates among males compared against females when it comes specifically dealing with learning disabilities like dyslexia


But we do see fewer girls referred into clinics than boys because parents notice problems earlier in boys than girls – e g difficulty paying attention/concentrating rather than poor reading skills per se – although once referred those same problems will lead us to diagnose similar levels across genders."Dr Rabiner goes on to say however that other research suggests genetics plays a bigger role overall compared against environmental factors which means environment alone isn't responsible entirely but still contributes significantly regardless.


And yet despite these known disparities between male vs female diagnoses rates related specifically dealing learning disabilities like dyslexia researchers still don't fully understand why this discrepancy exists nor how significant its impact really is given most experts agree early intervention leads directly into better long term outcomes.


So perhaps focusing efforts elsewhere might help close any remaining gaps down the road...For instance let's take autism spectrum disorder ASDs include conditions ranging from Asperger syndrome through childhood disintegrative disorder all way up through pervasive developmental delay PDD including autistic disorder AD itself along various points along continuum throughout life span depending mainly upon severity level involved.


"We know far less about gender effects within ASD populations largely because few large scale epidemiological studies exist examining gender effects within ASD populations worldwide..." writes Simon Baron Cohen professor emeritus Cambridge University Department Developmental Psychology & Psychopathology Research Centre by email correspondence regarding whether current data supports any specific trends relating solely toward prevalence rate discrepancies involving autism spectrum disorders themselves versus other neurodevelopmental conditions generally speaking

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