More women being diagnosed with ADHD later in life

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The number of adult women taking ADHD medicines has spiked 85 percent in the last 5 years, more than in any other age group, according to a surprising study just out.

Researchers with the pharmaceutical company, Express Scripts, analyzed its pharmacy claims from 2008-2012.

Dr. Amy Stevenson is a doctor at Focus MD, a specialty ADHD clinic in Greensboro. She says she understands why more women aren’t being diagnosed until adulthood.

She went to medical school, completed her residency and worked in Internal Medicine for 11 years before getting diagnosed herself.

“It wasn’t until I had my second child, full time job, husband, responsibilities, a house. My life was crumbling. I couldn’t keep up with it all. I realized I had ADHD.”

Researchers say more women are likely getting diagnosed later in life because in general, in boys with ADHD, behavioral disruptions are hard to miss, but in girls, ADHD symptoms can be harder to spot.

“Girls with ADHD can be very shy, very quiet. They’re pleasers, have social anxiety, so they don’t want to be noticed,” the doctor said.

But then, according to Dr. Stevenson, as life gets more complicated, with family, work, kids, that is when women often come in and want to get tested for ADHD.

Dr. Stevenson says computer based reaction timed testing, called QB testing, helps make an accurate diagnosis of ADHD and that the next step is finding the right medicine.

“There’s still that general feeling that ADHD is a weakness and that there is something wrong with us. That is absolutely not true. Our brains just think differently,” the doctor said.

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