Why misdiagnosis of adult females with ADHD is commonplace

According to Psychologist Kathleen Nadeau (American Psychological Association,2003) historically the diagnostic criteria for ADHD has been based on behavioural presentations of male’s in particular hyperactive primary school age boys. As ADHD has been seen as a disorder primarily affecting males the diagnostic criteria has not necessarily been gender – sensitive. Furthermore, females tend to internalise their symptoms with less observable behaviours such as daydreaming and inattentiveness compared to more overt presentations such as hyperactivity and impulsiveness that are often picked up for assessment.

Although anxiety and depression commonly co-exist with ADHD, Patricia Quinn, MD who wrote a recent article in www.addvance.com  about this subject proposes that adult females with ADHD are often diagnosed with depression and anxiety as the primary conditions rather than being secondary conditions to ADHD. This can lead to inappropriate or less than optimal treatment until it is later discovered that in fact the underlying ADHD is the primary condition that has yet to be treated.

It is also important to note that compromised memory, lack of motivation and feelings of self-doubt directly resulting from ADHD can seem comparable with indicators of depression which can also result in mis-diagnosis.  This highlights the importance of routine ADHD screening of adult woman who present with depression and anxiety symptoms to avoid delayed treatment.

Additional information