Leading psychologists are warning that gender bias is keeping many women with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder misdiagnosed.
Because the myth that ADHD primarily affects “bad boys” persists, it is estimated that tens of thousands of people in the United Kingdom are unaware they have the illness and are not receiving the necessary treatment.
“You have to make this incessant noise in my head stop, I used to implore doctors and therapists all the time. I’m unable to think. I’m having trouble sleeping. But this was dismissed as nervousness or women’s issues,” Hester explains.
She was diagnosed with depression at the age of 16 and spent much of her twenties trying unsuccessfully to be sent to a psychiatrist.
Hester’s anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicines were ineffective, but she learned to disguise her depression and worry.
Hester was ultimately diagnosed with ADHD in 2015, at the age of 34, and she claims it was only because her husband had been diagnosed with the disease a year before. It took a year for him to be diagnosed.
A late diagnosis can harm relationships and professions, as well as raise the risk of mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can be inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or a combination of the two. Females typically learn to “camouflage” their symptoms, according to experts. They could be diagnosed with anxiety or sadness. They may also have another disorder, such as autism, in addition to their ADHD. As a result, they may receive an incomplete or erroneous diagnosis, masking their underlying issues.
According to an official from England’s Department of Health and Social Care, advice has been modified to make it easier for clinicians to diagnose ADHD in women and girls.
According to the Scottish government, a pilot project is being carried out to enhance the diagnosis of adults with neurodevelopmental problems. The Welsh government plans to conclude a review of all-age neurodevelopmental services by March. Psychologists recommend filling out online ADHD questionnaires and speaking with a doctor for more information.