Teenage girls are less likely to be diagnosed with ADD.
Hiding the signs of ADD, or attention deficit disorder, is much easier for girls than boys, making it much more difficult to diagnose, says Dr. Kathleen G. Nadeau, a specialist in attention and learning disorders. That’s one reason girls with ADD are often not diagnosed until they’re 12 or older, five years later than the average diagnosis age for boys. In addition, as many as 75 percent of girls with ADD (also known as ADHD for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) may be missed entirely, according to Scholastic.com. To help teen girls who have ADD get the help they need, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms to look for.
According to Reuters Health, “girls with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely than their peers to develop depression, anxiety, eating disorders or other psychiatric problems by the time they reach adulthood.” Girls with ADD in their teenage years are more likely to show signs of depression, often because the disorder has not been acknowledged.
Lack of Concentration
“ADHD doesn’t show up in the same ways in girls,” says Nadeau, a clinical psychologist in Silver Spring, Maryland, and coauthor of “Understanding Girls with AD/HD.” Girls are much less likely to display hyperactive or impulsive symptoms, and instead may just appear “spacey,” unfocused or inattentive. They may have trouble staying organized or remembering directions or homework. Nadeau adds that girls compensate for the disorder better, making it harder to notice. And when it is noticed by teachers, it may be mistaken for immaturity or lack of academic ability.
Talking constantly, not fitting in with peers, not paying attention, disorganization, and not finishing work are all signs of someone who has ADD, according to Scholastic.com. But while all are classic signs of someone with ADD, they are often overlooked, since girls with ADD sometimes are able to compensate for the disorder. Teen girls who are overly emotional or sensitive may also be suffering from ADD, which makes it more difficult to control emotions.