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ADHD in Women vs Men: What Does the Research Tell Us?

ADHD in women vs men
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Umar Javed



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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a well-known neurological disorder that affects an individual’s ability to focus and pay attention. It is estimated that more than 365 million adults [1*] worldwide are affected by ADHD.

ADHD is thought to be more prevalent in men than women, but research has suggested that gender differences in the disorder may be more complex than previously thought.

How does ADHD manifest differently between the genders? In this article, we’ll explore the latest research on ADHD in men vs women and consider the implications for diagnosis and treatment.

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Diagnosing ADHD in Men and Women

According to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) [2*] , 10.2% of children and adolescents aged 4–17 were diagnosed with ADHD in 2016, with the majority (14%) of children being male, while there were only half as many girls (6.3%). This means that boys are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, and the disparity between genders grows as age increases.

ADHD is often seen as a “boys’ disorder,” which may lead to girls being overlooked or misdiagnosed. One of the reasons lies in the stereotyping of hyperactivity as male behavior. Another reason is that symptoms of ADHD in women are often more subtle.

Common Differences in Symptoms

There are some differences in the way the signs of ADHD in women and men are expressed that are important to consider.

  • Men with ADHD tend to display more hyperactivity, impulsivity, and aggression than women with the condition. Meanwhile, women may have fewer impulse-control problems.
  • When it comes to achievements, men often focus on the rewards of immediate gratification, which frequently leads to reckless behavior. On the other hand, women may be more drawn to persevering and planning to achieve their long-term goals.
  • Women with ADHD are rather more inattentive than men. They may have difficulty with tasks such as completing assignments, remembering details [3*] , and staying on top of their responsibilities.
  • Women may have difficulty controlling their emotions and may be more prone to mood swings than men.
  • Men may display a greater tendency to struggle with social skills, such as forming relationships and making and keeping friends.
  • Women may experience more anxiety, depression, and self-doubt than their male counterparts.

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Differences in ADHD Treatment

There is evidence to suggest that men and women with ADHD often receive different treatments and support.

The difference in the treatment of ADHD in men and women can be seen in the types of medications used to treat the disorder. Studies [4*] have found that boys and men are more likely to be prescribed stimulant medications for their ADHD than girls and women. This is thought to be due in part to the fact that stimulants are more likely to be effective in boys with ADHD than in girls with ADHD.

There is evidence [5*] to suggest that boys and men with ADHD are more likely to receive behavioral interventions than girls and women with the disorder. This is thought to be because boys are more likely to receive diagnosis and treatment in the first place, meaning they are more likely to be referred to behavioral intervention programs. Additionally, the programs available may be tailored more towards boys and men, leading to a greater likelihood of them receiving behavioral interventions.

We can see that treatments for ADHD are not tailored to the different experiences that men and women have with the disorder. The effectiveness of gender-specific treatment programs is largely supported by the fact that they create an environment that is more conducive to patient engagement. By grouping individuals of the same gender in therapy and treatment settings, patients are often more comfortable and connected to their peers, resulting in a stronger motivation to undergo treatment and recovery.

However, there are no differences [6*] in the medication used to treat ADHD for both sexes. Stimulant medications are used in treating ADHD symptoms, with no major differences in effectiveness seen between females and males.

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ADHD in men vs women


It is clear that ADHD affects both sexes, but the symptoms vary in both severity and type. It is important to keep in mind that gender alone cannot explain the differences seen in ADHD symptoms, and caution must be used when making gender-based diagnosis and treatment decisions. Ultimately, understanding the subtle gender differences in ADHD can help both men and women better assess their individual needs, leading to more effective diagnoses and treatments.

We need to increase awareness of gender-based differences in the manifestation of this disorder. It is necessary to invest in research that can determine the specificities of ADHD in each gender. Hopefully, science will uncover the unique ways in which men and women experience this disorder to create more individualized approaches to treatment.

If you are looking for expert aid in managing ADHD, the online mental health center MEDvidi is the right place. Qualified MDs from your state will guide you through it and devise a personalized treatment plan to suit your needs, which can include psychotherapy and medications.


+6 sources
  1. The prevalence of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A global systematic review and meta-analysis. (2021)
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  2. General Prevalence of ADHD
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  3. Working memory deficits in adults with ADHD: is there evidence for subtype differences? (2006)
    Source link
  4. The female side of pharmacotherapy for ADHD—A systematic literature review. (2020)
    Source link
  5. Why more boys than girls with ADHD receive treatment: a study of Dutch twins. (2007)
    Source link
  6. Females with ADHD: An expert consensus statement taking a lifespan approach providing guidance for the identification and treatment of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder in girls and women. (2020)
    Source link
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Umar Javed



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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.