Inattentive ADHD More Common In Girls

ADHD in girls

Inattentive ADHD More Common In Girls

According to the Center for Disease Control, teen boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than teen girls. This disparity isn’t necessarily because girls are less susceptible to the disorder. Symptoms of ADHD present differently in girls as they are often more subtle and harder to identify. While boys are more likely to show signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity at a young age, inattentive ADHD in teen girls is often overlooked as it also tends to be associated with emotional issues rather than behavioral problems. 

ADHD in Girls

When girls are diagnosed with ADHD, they are more often diagnosed as predominantly inattentive than boys with ADHD.

Girls are not as hyperactive,” says Dr. Patricia Quinn, director and co-founder of the National Resource Center for Girls and Women with ADHD. “People imagine little boys bouncing off the walls and think: that’s what ADHD looks like and if this girl doesn’t look like that, then she doesn’t have ADHD.”

A possible reason for these gender differences is that girls have been socialized to put up this facade of competence and to hide struggles from others, while boys tend to care less about how they are perceived by others. Girls with inattentive ADHD may appear to be disorganized daydreamers but, they also tend to hyperfocus on things they like or are good at to compensate for their distractibility. Sometimes this is a coping strategy to keep them entertained when they feel bored, but this rigidity can often feel out of control.

Girls with ADHD are more likely to:

  • Have lower self-efficacy and have problems completing tasks
  • Develop poorer coping strategies 
  • Experience higher rates of depression and anxiety
  • Struggle with motivation
  • Blame themselves for perceived failures and turn pain and anger inward
  • Show lower levels of physical aggression and externalizing behaviors
  • Feel rejected by their peers
  • “Suffer in silence”

What is Inattentive ADHD?

There are three subtypes of ADHD that categorize the disorder into hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, inattentive symptoms, and a mixed presentation. As hyperactivity and impulsivity are more noticeable, most treatment options are focused on this subtype. Left untreated, inattentive ADHD can lead to just as many problems in school and in relationships. 

Signs of inattentive ADHD include: 

  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Having difficulty organizing thoughts and learning new information
  • Easily bored
  • Losing things often
  • Missing details and forgets deadlines easily
  • Processing information more slowly and less accurately than others
  • Having trouble listening and following directions 

Steps to an Accurate Diagnosis:

    1. Pay attention to possible signs that they may be struggling. Many warning signs are more subtle than others. Doing research can help you understand the bigger picture.
    2. Ask your teen what challenges they feel affect them the most.  As symptoms of inattentive ADHD can overlap with other issues, it is important to ask for their point of view about what they find the most challenging rather than making assumptions.
    3. Look into psychological testing. Assessment centers, like ViewPoint Center, conduct a variety of tests to determine how symptoms may show up in multiple areas of one’s life. In a residential setting, professionals are better able to understand how one’s behavior changes depending on their environment and to make a more accurate diagnosis. 
    4. Rule out other issues. Although learning differences often coincide with other mental health issues, it is important to determine the root causes of symptoms your teen is experiencing. From there, professionals can make individualized treatment recommendations to help your child find success academically and socially. 


ViewPoint Center Can Help

ViewPoint Center is a short-term residential Crisis and Assessment Center for adolescents ages 12 to 17 that helps stabilize and assess teenagers struggling with mental health issues. Before ViewPoint, families are often frustrated and lost. Varying doctors and therapists with a range of advice, diagnoses, and plans leaves parents and children unsure of where to turn. At ViewPoint, we centralize all of the different diagnoses, and create a comprehensive holistic report to help your teen and your family to get back on track and transition to the next stage of their recovery.

Call 855-290-9682 for more information about ADHD in girls.


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