Hundreds of thousands more women tested for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder last year than before, with the proportion of women who want to get tested now far outnumbering men, new figures show.
Exclusive data seen by LatestPageNews, shows that around 7,700 women took an online test verified by healthcare professionals in 2019 to determine if they had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but that number rose to around 254,400 women last year.
Health experts are noting that there is also an increase in women being diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disorder – Warning: ADHD is mistakenly thought of as a male condition as symptoms often present very differently in women.
Data from Clinical Partners, one of the UK’s leading mental health providers, which works closely with the NHS, shows that women made up 60 per cent of those who used their ADHD tests, while men made up 40 per cent.
This is substantially higher than the 51 percent of women testing for ADHD in 2019 and the 53 percent of women testing in 2020.
ADHD typically includes hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention, but women are less likely to exhibit these first two traits as they are more likely to have what is known as “Inattentive ADHD.” Experts say ADHD is harder to spot in women because they’re more likely to internalize or camouflage symptoms.
It is estimated that around one in 20 adults has ADHD, while around four times more boys than girls are diagnosed.
Harriet Clare, who was diagnosed with ADHD five years ago, shared LatestPageNews She was forced to borrow money from friends to pay for private health care after abandoning the NHS due to insufficient support.
The 32-year-old said: “That’s a pretty typical story. Also, many people go for a private diagnosis and are then dismissed by the NHS saying ‘they went and paid, it’s not real’.
“I’ve been to the GP a total of three times. The first time a doctor said something like, “People say a lot of things now, I’m sure when I was younger I would have been diagnosed with something, but I’m fine”. The second time I was directed to the wrong place.”
Ms Clare, who works in health and social services in London, said women who describe ADHD symptoms to their GP are routinely given antidepressants because the disorder is misdiagnosed as a mental illness.
She said her own ADHD symptoms made everyday tasks a massive struggle – adding that she dropped out of her sophomore degree at university after nearly four years of trying to complete her graduate project before giving up.
“My room is a mess,” added Ms. Clare. “I forget appointments. I’m late all the time. I’m late paying the rent. Bureaucratic tasks are difficult. Sometimes I find my cell phone in the fridge. I found my keys in my shoe. I’ll put something somewhere and it’s just gone. I can’t have a job and eat and make sure I take care of myself.”
She said her ADHD affects everything she does but it got better later in life – adding that she used to interrupt people in conversations but no longer does so.
Ms Clare added: “In adulthood, men with ADHD tend to have more social communication problems, while women have more emotional control problems.
“ADHD affects my relationships. Rejection is tough. Men with ADHD often have women in their lives to take care of them, but you often don’t get that when you’re a woman.
“Often women are still expected to do more housework, but it’s impossible to do it for two if you can’t do it for one. I can only find my shoes when they’re on my feet.”
She said there are expected things in a romantic relationship that people with ADHD often struggle with, like remembering birthdays or other important dates.
“I can lose a present someone gave me or throw it on the floor, but it’s not like I don’t care,” she said.
Ms Clare, who has done extensive research on ADHD, said her brother was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, which showed typical symptoms of running around and “jumping off walls”.
Meanwhile, her symptoms took a different form and included the loss of belongings, moldy sandwiches in her bag, and teachers wrongly assuming she wasn’t trying hard enough.
“That’s why sometimes people with ADHD end up depressed, they say you’re not trying, but you’re trying your best. People are getting unhappy,” Ms Clare added.
dr Pablo Jeczmien, the consulting psychiatrist at Clinical Partners, said LatestPageNews: “ADHD is underrecognized in girls and women because the symptoms of ADHD, which we associate with hyperactivity and impulsivity, are present or absent differently in women.
“Many boys are diagnosed with ADHD much earlier than girls. Because girls and boys present symptoms differently, many women whose symptoms are overlooked as children can have difficulty receiving a diagnosis at a young age, can disrupt their entire lives and sometimes lead to anxiety or depression as a result. “
He found that boys with ADHD tend to be more hyperactive and disruptive at school, while girls tend to remain calm and daydream. In the teenage years, hormonal fluctuations are regularly “blamed” for ADHD symptoms.
“Undiagnosed, ADHD can lead to serious mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, self-harm, eating disorders, difficult relationships, and traumatic experiences,” said Dr. Jeczmien.
“When they finally receive an ADHD diagnosis and the right support, many women report feeling much happier and more productive, have happier relationships, and finally feel more ‘in control’ of their own brains.”