June 24, 2024

ADHD is diagnosed less often in girls than in boys – SWR Aktuell

Louise Lenard from Freiburg was only 21 years old when she was diagnosed with ADHD. “No one has ever seen him.” It is not uncommon: the disease is diagnosed less often in girls than in boys.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has long been recognized as a childhood disease. However, it is now known that adults can also develop this disease. In women, it’s often only discovered in adulthood — not in childhood, as it usually is with boys. Just like Louis Lenard from Freiburg.

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ADHD symptoms have been dismissed as personality traits

Luise Lehnard finds it difficult to focus on several things at the same time. But also to focus on just one thing. Freiburg student with ADHD. “You can imagine it’s like you’re sitting on a tram and everybody’s talking out loud at once. That’s just in your head and that’s your private thoughts,” says the 23-year-old.

She was only 21 years old when she was diagnosed with ADHD. And only because she went to the doctor on her own. Her environment always indicated to her that she had nothing, and that this was just her personality. But Louise Leonard realized that it was somewhat different. She is very dreamy and often unfocused. In addition, she had endless hobbies and stopped them again and again. Symptoms of ADHD are called hyperfocus. Suddenly become interested in a subject, learn everything about it and then quickly lose interest in it again.

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A late diagnosis can be distressing

Before the diagnosis, I felt deprived. She didn’t know what was wrong with her. He often thinks that others think they are stupid. Since it is obvious what she has, she is relieved. Symptoms are not part of their personality but part of the disease. She can now take medication that helps her focus better.

But she’s also a little upset: With an early diagnosis, many things could have been easier for her. “Especially my school days would have been different if I had just noticed earlier that I had ADHD,” says Louise Lenard.

Status through the network: Women are less likely to have ADHD

Swantje Matthies is Senior Physician in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University Hospital Freiburg. She explained that ADHD has always been considered one of the childhood diseases that mostly affect boys. About 30 years ago, the disease was also researched in adults. And the search for women with ADHD has only been going on for ten years.

Swantje Matthies, chief physician at the University Hospital Freiburg, together with other physicians and psychotherapists, wrote a book on late diagnosis of ADHD in girls and women.


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Why is the disease diagnosed in girls later than in boys? Because ADHD is typified by the boisterous, overexcited boy, the fidgety fidget who disrupts the class. But girls have other symptoms – and they are often not seen as such by society. Girls tend to be daydreamers and have more symptoms related to inattention, Swantje Matthies says. “Girls may tend to control symptoms because behavior typical of ADHD, such as being fussy or rowdy, is usually rated more negatively in girls than in boys,” says Mathis.

When ADHD is not detected

Although symptoms can be treated, ADHD cannot be cured. If the disease goes undetected, as is the case with some women, it can have serious consequences. Dealing with everyday life can become an impossible task. This can lead to depression or other complications, says chief physician Swantje Matthies.

ADHD can also have benefits

In addition to all the drawbacks and limitations, the disease also has some advantages, Mattis stresses. This applies to all genders. Louise Leonard also speaks of her great compassion and, above all, of her excessive focus. You can only deal with one topic for ten hours, say a research paper – as long as you are really interested in the topic. “Whether it’s healthy is another matter,” she says, laughing.