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Does ADHD affect women differently than men?

Sudeepta Varma, MD
Psychiatry
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can look very different in girls than in boys (and in women than in men). In this video, psychiatrist Sudeepta Varma, MD, discusses how ADHD affects the genders differently, and why that matters.
Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
Women with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) display many of the standard symptoms of ADHD including inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. According to Dr. Matlen of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, they may also experience a variety of other symptoms including hypersensitivity, low self-esteem, depression, addiction, ruminating thoughts, and relationship troubles. Sleep problems are also common in women with ADHD. They may tire easily, have trouble falling asleep, and struggle to rise the next day.  Because women are often responsible for many child-rearing and household duties, in addition to working outside of the home, life with ADHD can feel like a constant battle for women.
Women and men can both be affected with this disorder. However, ADHD is three to five times more common in males than females. Females are more likely to have attention problems as opposed to hyperactivity or the mixed type, which can also be seen in women. Treatment in women is essentially the same in men, and depends on symptoms that are present and how they are affecting your life.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
There is very little data on ADHD in women. We do know that it is less common in women. It occurs in about 1 in 15 girls compared to 1 in 10 boys.

However, individuals with ADHD can have different needs and challenges, depending on their gender, age and environment.

Bottom line, women, like men, need an accurate diagnosis that covers symptoms, functionality, and impairment, and maybe different treatments to reduce inappropriate inattention. Talk to your doctor about what treatment strategies will work best for you whether you are male or female.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.