Experts say that until very recently signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in girls have often been missed, as symptoms appear differently and emerge later for girls with ADHD. The American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic criteria had called for symptoms to be visible by age 7, which is typical for boys. But a recent decision to change the age to 12 has helped more girls’ symptoms to be successfully diagnosed. Unlike boys with ADHD, who typically show symptoms of hyperactivity, girls’ symptoms tend more towards inattentiveness and disorganization. While ADHD symptoms often become less intense for boys after passing through puberty, for many girls they become worse. “Anxiety and depression turn into low self-esteem and self-loathing, and the risk for self-harm and suicide attempts is four-to-five times that of girls without ADHD,” says Dr. Ellen Littman, clinical psychologist and co-author of Understanding Girls with AD/HD.
According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have shot up 55 percent for girls, and 40 percent for boys, between 2003 and 2011. In women aged 26 to 34, ADHD prescriptions have increased 85 percent between 2008 and 2012.
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