ADHD Online Experts highlights need during May’s Mental Health Month
Grand Rapids, May 2021– ADHD can be challenging for any adult, but failing to recognize the symptoms specific to young girls and women can lead to years of unnecessary hardships. Michigan-based telehealth company ADHD Online seeks to confront the notion that ADHD is a diagnosis limited to hyperactive boys and inattentive men. ADHD is characterized as a neurological disorder that affects the brain structurally and chemically. It is also a disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and hyperactivity that interferes with functioning or development. When comparing boys to girls, the ways in which each of the diagnostic criteria for ADHD are met can be stark. These differences can be attributed to gender biases, symptomatic differences, comorbidities, and other strategies that may mask or overshadow symptoms of ADHD in girls.
“ADHD Online, through its team of experts, seeks to bring to light the disparities identified in girls and women who are unnecessarily struggling with undiagnosed ADHD,” says Randall Duthler, MD and CMO of ADHD Online. “May is Mental Health Awareness Month and an excellent opportunity to open a dialogue about stereotypes, biases, stigmas, and misinformation about ADHD.”
According to a BMC Psychiatry study, females with ADHD present with differences in their profile of symptoms, comorbidity, and associated functioning compared to males. Specific questions that remain unanswered in diagnosing ADHD include:
- When should health professionals look for signs of ADHD in young girls?
- What should be the first mode of treatment for girls once diagnosed with ADHD?
- Are education professionals equipped with the tools needed to identify girls with ADHD?
- How are we helping to identify ADHD in women who may have been misdiagnosed?
In a recent poll, ADHD Online found that more than half of healthcare providers who treat ADHD felt less comfortable recognizing ADHD in girls compared to boys. ADHD often mimics anxiety, which is diagnosed nearly twice as often in female patients compared to male. ADHD Online developed an intelligent assessment platform to better identify ADHD in patients also displaying features of anxiety or depression to mitigate this disparity.
Many boys with ADHD present with hyperactivity, low grades, impulse control and aggression. Girls often present with academic underperformance, lack of interest in mentaly taxing activities, disorganization, poor time management, and low self-esteem. These symptoms make it harder to spot ADHD in young girls. With an estimated 50% to 75% of cases of ADHD in girls being missed, undiagnosed ADHD is being identified as a contributing factor in the high rates of suicides among adult women.
Experts believe we have lost a generation of productive and functioning women due to the misunderstanding of how ADHD exhibits itself. Women with ADHD are more likely to have low self-esteem and low activity level. Moreover, women, where ADHD was not caught by a health professional earlier, have lower self-esteem and a lower quality of life. This can lead to financial instability, difficulty to maintain relationships, and potentially, suicide.
Terry Matlen, LMSW, international expert/author on Women with ADHD, agrees, “We know that ADHD in women with comorbidities including anxiety and depression can factor into a higher incidence of suicide.”
ADHD Online is looking to change that narrative. Their goal is to work with educational professionals, health professionals, and mental health experts. Programming such as roundtables, education programs, and partnering with groups such as Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) is just a start to combat this issue is facing young girls and women.
CEO Zach Booker, who has ADHD himself, believes ADHD Online is on the pulse of being the company to confront this concern for women finally. “I was diagnosed with ADHD at an early age and was able to get help; I can’t imagine how hard it is for women not knowing what’s happening and not getting that support. We hope to fix that.”