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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Slowly, ADHD Gender Gap Closes

Focusing on the Female

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More studies are under way to further point out the similarities and differences in symptoms between boys and girls. Left untreated, ADHD can lead to depression, lack of self-esteem, and emotional and academic problems -- including drug experimentation and earlier sexual relations for girls, according to Nadeau. Many children with the disorder are physically active and more prone to injury. Once they reach adulthood, undiagnosed ADHD women often struggle with organization and being consistent as parents, just like ADHD men, she says.

"There are a lot of things that happen and they don't have an understanding of why," says Nadeau, who has authored several books, including Understanding Girls with ADHD. "Everyone just blames them. There is tremendous psychological damage."

Becky Stanford says she felt misunderstood most of her pubescent years. Had she been diagnosed earlier, she says she could have received treatment that would have made life easier for her and those around her.

"Not knowing why you learn differently, and not understanding why things are easier for other people -- I think that does affect your self-esteem," says Stanford, MSW, a social worker who along with her mother has produced a video on ADHD called Dismissed and Undiagnosed Dreamers. "If I had found out earlier, we could have brought in tutors and people to help me with coping skills to help me organize. It would have helped me to get a better sense of myself early on."

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