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Mental Health

Men are Diagnosed with ADHD 3 Times More than Women- But Why?

Famous women like Zooey Deschanel, Emma Watson, and Michelle Rodriguez have opened up about about their ADHD diagnoses, but why has it become an awkward conversation? For boys, the average age of ADHD diagnosis is 7 years old, but it can be more difficult to diagnose girls based on the two most “common” symptoms: hyperactive/impulsive activity, and inattentive behavior.

Girls are known to be looked over when it comes to this due to our tendency not to draw attention to ourselves, unlike young boys that are loud and outspoken. Doctors are also more prone to treat females for anxiety and depression, rather than explore this possibility. Things like high estrogen levels and hormonal swings during puberty create the idea that girls are dealing with hormonal moodiness, rather than struggling with something more.

Over two years ago, my family and I started seeing things change with me a bit. I would become easily distracted in class and feel an urge to get up and walk around. During standardized tests specifically, I would feel pressure to rush knowing I probably didn’t put the right answer. After many incidents like this and several tests later, my family and I decided to visit a doctor. I had been tested once before for ADHD years prior, but I was told that I did not show any symptoms. This has become a particularly widespread problem among female college students, who often go undiagnosed for years into their 20s. Here are some of the overlooked symptoms of adult ADHD in women: 

Chatty Cathy

Women who have ADHD are often the girls that are labeled “Chatty Cathys.” A Chatty Cathy is a person who talks without saying anything of consequence. They can often go from topic to topic without the topics connecting to each other, and go on lengthy tangents to try to explain their thought process. 

Hot Mess

Another sterotype used against girls who have ADHD is describing them as a “hot mess.” A hot mess is someone who is disorganized, disheveled, always in a rush, always losing things, or appears to have no clue about what is happening around them. These stereotypes are strictly assigned to females struggling with focus, and let’s be honest- you would never call a guy a ‘hot mess.’

Social Isolation

Unlike the previous two symptoms listed, social isolation is one of the lesser known signs of ADHD in females. Girls battling with ADHD are often seen spending more time alone instead of with their friends, as their perceptions of themselves as unorganized and forgetful begin to prohibit them from wanting to speak up, and potentially be seen as “chatty cathys”. 

Self-diagnosing is complex, and does not at all equate to a doctor’s diagnosis. However, being aware of the symptoms and struggles of adult ADHD in females can help misdiagnosed and undiagnosed college women evaluate the reasons behind the everyday difficulties they face. You should always do extensive medical research if you think you are dealing with something your doctors have ignored, and bring the information to your doctor from there. 


Emily Renco

Rollins '24

Hello! Emily Renco is a Communications Major and double minor in Spanish and Global Health at Rollins College. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, writing, and trying new things.
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