Women Are as Prone to ADHD as Men: Study
Hyperactivity, overexcitement, and difficulty in focusing are some of the common problems among children. But when the intensity and frequency of these symptoms, along with other behavioral problems, seem to compound with each passing day, there is a high probability for the child to suffer from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
It is widely believed that ADHD is a male-oriented disorder, so mostly boys or men are afflicted with it. However, a recent study debunks the myth and states that girls and women are equally susceptible to suffer from ADHD. In addition, most of them have other mental issues, like anxiety disorders, and almost 50 percent of them even contemplate suicide.
Women with ADHD have a higher chance to suffer from a range of mental and physical health problems than those who do not have ADHD, says the 2016 study by the University of Toronto.
ADHD triggers suicidal thoughts in women
With the help of data obtained from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health, which examined 3,908 Canadian women aged 20–39 years, of whom 107 had reported being diagnosed with ADHD, the researchers unearthed some disturbing details associated with ADHD in women patients.
The researchers revealed that prevalence of mental illness among women with ADHD was alarmingly higher than it was believed to be. Almost 36 percent respondents had generalized anxiety disorder, 31 percent had suffered from major depressive disorder, while 39 percent had substance abuse problems. Another perturbing fact that came to light was that almost 46 percent women with ADHD had contemplated suicide at some point of their lives.
“We were surprised at the high levels of physical health problems that the women were experiencing,” said co-author of the study Danielle A. Lewis, an MSW graduate of the University of Toronto.
The women with ADHD had more problems related to their physical health. “More than one in four (28 percent) of these relatively young women said that physical pain prohibited some of their activities, which was much higher than the 9 percent of their peers without ADHD who had disabling pain,” said Lewis.
“Insomnia was also more prevalent in women with ADHD in comparison to those without ADHD (43.9 percent vs 12.2 percent) as was smoking (41 percent vs 22 percent),” the report said.
However, the researchers could not ascertain the potential reasons behind women with ADHD being so vulnerable to other health problems. The findings revealed that almost 37 percent women who participated in the survey had difficulty in meeting their basic expenses of food, shelter, and clothing because of inadequate family income. On the other hand, only 13 percent women without ADHD had faced such economic constraints. So, the researchers assumed that mental conditions may have caused the financial distress in them or the financial crisis may have contributed to their problems.
The study contradicted earlier claims that ADHD is primarily a boys’ disorder which has little relevance for girls and women, said one of the researchers. It revealed that a large portion of women with ADHD struggle with any other mental illness too, along with physical health concerns and poverty.
ADHD treatment is possible with the right intervention at the earliest. “In light of these problems, it is important that primary health care providers are particularly vigilant in monitoring and treating their female patients with ADHD,” said co-author Senyo Agbeyaka.
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