ADHD is Different for Girls: What Families Need to Know

Mental Health and Wellness
ADHD is Different for Girls: What Families Need to Know

When many people think of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), they picture a little boy bouncing off the walls. In fact, the general public and even some professionals once thought of ADHD as a boys-only disorder. However, better research and understanding about ADHD suggest that it affects children of all genders in about equal amounts.


Despite the new evidence, the myths about ADHD persist, and up to 75 percent of girls with ADHD do not get the diagnosis. This leaves these girls without the treatment they need in order to thrive. It’s important for parents to know what ADHD looks like for girls, why treatment is essential, and when to seek help.

The Three Kinds of ADHD

To comprehend the difference between how ADHD affects girls and boys differently, one must first know about the three different types of ADHD. While the disorder affects each person differently, there are three general categories of ADHD:


  1. Hyperactive and Impulsive - includes excess energy and a lack of impulse control
  2. Inattentive - symptoms include being forgetful, easily distracted, or poorly organized
  3. Combination - includes symptoms from both other types of ADHD


The stereotype of ADHD is the first type--hyperactive and impulsive. This type of ADHD is most common in boys. In fact, girls rarely show hyperactivity signs, even with combination ADHD.

How ADHD Presents in Girls

Most girls who live with ADHD have the inattentive type. When girls have combination ADHD, they tend to not have the hyperactivity symptoms. As such, girls with ADHD don’t fit the stereotypical mold of kids with this disorder. Instead, adults will likely notice that she:


  • Gets irritated or weepy more easily than others
  • Blurts out and interrupts others often
  • Struggles to finish tasks
  • Spaces out or daydreams often
  • Make many seemingly careless mistakes
  • Appears to not listen
  • Talks significantly more than most kids
  • Seems disorganized
  • Forgets important things
  • Gets easily distracted


If your child shows several of these symptoms, you should consider taking her to a behavioral health care provider. It’s important to catch ADHD as early as possible to avoid potentially dangerous problems that untreated ADHD can cause.

Untreated ADHD is Dangerous

Without proper treatment, girls with ADHD may fall short of their goals. Though it is not their fault, these children start to internalize the belief that there is something wrong with them or that they are not “good enough.” This negative internal monologue is especially common for girls with undiagnosed ADHD. This could be why such kids are more likely than their peers to develop:


  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression


Even if these girls grow out of their ADHD symptoms, the effects of not having treatment can continue on. The negative self-talk and lack of social skills can lead to worsening mental health. In fact, people with untreated ADHD are more likely to harm themselves or attempt suicide. That’s why it’s absolutely vital for parents to seek help if they suspect their child has ADHD.

What To Do If You Believe Your Child Has ADHD

No matter what gender your child is, it’s important to seek professional behavioral health care if you notice signs of ADHD. A specialized provider can help your family determine if ADHD is indeed the cause of the behaviors and what your treatment options are.


If you’re looking for behavioral health care for your child, contact LifeStance Health today. Our team of expert providers can get you the help your family needs.