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.

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Adult ADHD - A Great Newspaper Article


Georgia Cassimatis has written a great article about ADHD that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 May 2016. Georgia did some great research for the article including interviewing Joy Toll, a psychiatrist Dr Hugh Morgan, and a paediatrician Dr Patrick Concannon plus a couple of adults, Michael and Susie, who were able to share their experience of ADHD.


Women with ADHD - the struggle of meeting the dual demands of a household and career

The impact of ADHD on woman can bring a different set of difficulties compared to those experienced by adult males.

According to website ADDvance, women with ADHD can struggle with feelings of guilt and overwhelm related to managing current societal expectations around ‘keeping house’ and having a career. For example busy mothers may find it very difficult to get started on or complete jobs around the house that they find tedious. As those with ADHD know, it can be very difficult to get going on tasks that are not experienced as highly engaging or urgent often leading to a sense of growing unease about all the uncompleted daily tasks that need attention.


Lisa Walton - Diagnosis at 36

Lisa Walton was diagnosed at 36 even though her teachers thought she might have ADHD when she started school. Before her diagnosis she tried various jobs: receptionist, data entry, project management, office admin, PA. Dancing was her attempt to not work 9 to 5. She studied for and tried to run her own business.

Lisa has captured her journey from childhood through to diagnosis as an adult in an entertaining and illuminating account. Interestingly Lisa's behaviour at school will resonate for men as well as women - hyperactive, disruptive, excelling at subjects she liked and problematic elsewhere.

Read her fascinating story and how at 36 years old she has found hope for future success at http://m.dailylife.com.au/health-and-fitness/dl-wellbeing/the-diagnosis-that-changed-my-life-20160401-gnwfow

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