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The Grave Consequences of Persistent Gender Role Expectations in ADHD

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For many years, ADHD was believed to impact only males — and the research reflects that. It wasn’t until 1993 that NIH-funded clinical studies on ADHD were required to include women.

We’ve come a long way, but missed ADHD symptoms and underdiagnosis are still common among females with the condition.“Because of stigma as well as thoughts related to gender role presentations, ADHD symptoms in females can be thought of as more likely due to anxiety or depression,” says Dave Anderson, Ph.D., of the Child Mind Institute, in the video above. “Those are conditions that people are more used to seeing in females.”The presentation of ADHD in males and females is distinct, and not fully understood or valued.

On average, females experience a later age of symptom onset and a different level of severity. While males are commonly hyperactive and impulsive, females are better known for symptoms of inattention and distractibility. (Inattentive ADHD was introduced to the DSM in 1980.)“People will say, ‘Oh, she’s distracted because she’s anxious,’ or ‘She’s distracted because she’s sad,’ not because she has ADHD.

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