IS ADHD DIFFERENT IN GIRLS COMPARE TO BOYS?
Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder is a neuro-developmental disorder that begins in childhood, but frequently persists into adulthood. People with ADHD exhibit behaviors associated with impulsiveness and hyperactivity, inattentiveness, or a combination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2016, approximately 6.1 million children (9.4%) in the United States had an ADHD diagnosis. The rate of diagnosis is higher for boys at 12.9% than for girls at 5.6%.
Is this an accurate picture of what is really going on?
In my clinic I have noticed an increase in female patients with a diagnosis of ADHD. The first difference I notice is that these patients are usually adults, whether the children I see with this diagnosis are usually young boys.
I got to reflect on this recently, wondering why this should be.
EXTERNAL SYMPTOMS VS INTERNAL SYMPTOMS
If you have seen a young boy with ADHD, I bet you spotted that child very quickly even from a crowd; the physical symptoms are quite visible to the naked eye:
-loud voice, interrupting
-lack of focus
This kind of picture is more easily picked up by parents and teachers, which leads to early diagnosis in many cases.
What happens with girls?
In most cases I have seen, adult women come to me with a recent diagnosis of ADHD, which is often a relief, because it finally gives a reason for something they may have felt was “off” all their lives, yet could not put their finger on.
This is because ADHD symptoms in girls manifest in a less physically obvious way: a little girl can be seen “day-dreaming” all the time, not paying attention to the teacher in class but this can be interpreted as part of their character or personality and, because in general girls function better than boys on a social level, you do not see the same disruptive or aggressive behaviour that boys with ADHD might exhibit and so the ADHD goes undetected.
THREE CASES OF ADHD
1-A lady in her mid-thirties came to see me because she was pregnant and wanted to manage her ADHD symptoms without medication.
She had been diagnosed in adulthood and had already been on medication for some time for it.
Her symptoms were:
-feeling overwhelmed. Her job required her to organise her time, she had a list of daily tasks. The thought of this list made her highly anxious, to the point that she felt paralysed and by the end of the day, nothing would get done. This, in turn, would make her fell guilty and her self esteem suffered.
-lack of self-esteem: because of the above situation, she would feel guilty, “lazy”, fearful of looking like a failure to her boss, her family and so on.
-sleep disturbance: the stress of the above symptoms, resulted in her not being able to sleep, as thoughts of guilt and what she was supposed to be doing kept her awake.
2-A university student had recently been diagnosed with ADHD. She told me she was happy about the diagnosis, as she finally understood why she had always felt “different” from her peers.
She was clearly a bright young woman, yet she experienced memory issues and it would take a lot of effort for her to retain even simple instructions.
A good example of this was her part time job at a fast food restaurant: when she was given the task to lock up the shop before leaving at night, she would either forget completely to do so or go back to the shop in the middle of the night to make sure she had done so.
This kind of incidents was interpreted as her being “scatter-brained” or irresponsible, unreliable and lazy, which of course troubled her.
Initially, she would blame herself for being “lazy”: she felt no mental energy to go to her lectures or focus on her studies and kept putting off her exams.
However, she was quite driven and ambitious and did want to finish her studies and have a career, yet she felt like she was constantly fighting against her own nature.
3-A mother in her forties with a diagnosis of ADHD came to see me because she felt like the medication she was taking was not effective anymore and increasing the dosage was giving her unpleasant side-effects.
Her main issue was: “procrastination”. To the point where simple daily routine tasks like loading the washing machine or cooking had become impossible.
No sense of time: could not understand how she was always late for everything, despite her sincere efforts.
Depression and despair of getting better. Because of the above issues, her marriage was suffering, she had frequent arguments with her husband, who just thought she was lazy or did not care enough about their family.
Interestingly enough, she did not attribute these symptoms to her ADHD: she thought that the condition was only responsible for the constant obsessive thoughts in her mind and compulsive “list-making” (she made lists all the time in an effort to carry out the tasks she needed to do on a daily basis).
In all three cases the common denominator seems to be this mental paralysis before routine activities.
They all describe it like an insurmountable obstacle, this massive to-do-list that they have no hope to get to the bottom of and therefore, why even bother? Sense of defeat.
With the sense of defeat comes lack of action, the “paralysis” and the result is that nothing gets done, of course. This, in turn, causes a great sense of guilt, anxiety and erosion of self-esteem, “I am not good at anything, why should I even try” and the vicious circle continues.
Compare with young boys, where the typical symptoms I hear from the parents are: “he cannot stay still for five minutes”, “he gets angry really quickly if things don’t go his way” or “he needs to jump and run and he often gets injured because he doesn’t have any sense of danger”.
THE HOMEOPATHIC APPROACH
Given the great difference in the nature and degree of symptoms of ADHD between male and female patients and then again, from one person to the next, as each person is unique, it is staggering how conventional medicine has only the same type of treatment to offer to everybody.
The three cases I briefly illustrated above, were all successfully resolved by prescribing the remedy that matched the whole individual. In one case, just one dose of Calcarea Carbonica 1M resolved all the symptoms.