ADHD in Men
This article was written by an ADHD man to inform adults with ADHD and their spouses about their own ADHD. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered as medical advice. If you believe you may have ADHD, be sure to see a doctor. As a man, I know ADHD in men can present differently compared to women. Let’s take a look.
If you are a man or a woman with ADHD, consider yourself lucky; the research done on ADHD has come a long way in the past 20 years. While the research, along with the stigma attached to ADHD, still needs more work, there has never been a better time in human history to have ADHD.
Speaking of history, consider this: both sexes have experienced ADHD differently for thousands of years!
How ADHD Affects Men Differently From Women
You might have noticed by now that young boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than young girls. But that is not because of genetics, it is actually because of gender norms.
Boys learn to run, climb and do lots of physical activities. This causes males to manifest ADHD symptoms externally. In other words, their symptoms are more noticeable and harder to hide.
Many symptoms of ADHD are tied to hyperactivity or impulsivity, two things most young boys are still learning to manage. If a young boy has ADHD and behavior problems at school, it is almost impossible for him to avoid being diagnosed before the age of 8.
At the same time, this trend makes it easier for males to be misdiagnosed with ADHD. Any boy who is too hyperactive or impulsive will be suspected of having ADHD after their parents or teacher do a simple Google search.
When a young boy diagnosed with ADHD becomes an adult, he will notice his ADHD affects every facet of his life. It’s noticeable at his job, at home and among his friends. The same applies to women. Both men and women have different expectations to live up to. Both sexes will have poor self-esteem if their ADHD prevents them from living up to those expectations.
How ADHD Affects Women Compared to Men
ADHD symptoms in young girls usually manifest internally. It’s harder for them to get a diagnosis because their symptoms are not obvious like a boy’s symptoms. For example, while a girl with ADHD quietly plays with her eraser, the boy in class with ADHD who has behavior problems will steal the spotlight. In fact, there is little to no research on how hyperactivity symptoms manifest in young girls. That’s why young girls are usually diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD.
Young girls who have ADHD struggle with self-esteem issues because they cannot conform to gender norms like the other girls in school. Poor self-esteem in turn causes them to be quiet out of fear of embarrassing themselves, which causes their ADHD to go unnoticed by everyone.
Girls also have to deal with ADHD stereotypes believed by parents and medical professionals alike. As a result, females are often misdiagnosed with something like bipolar disorder or simply told to “take some time to relax”.
Many myths persist regarding what causes ADHD. Let’s take a look at the facts and separate truth from fiction.
The self-esteem issues of young girls and adult women with untreated ADHD leads to depression, anxiety and eating disorders. When they go to seek medical treatment, the possibility of ADHD causing their anxiety or depression will be hard to identify. In most cases, they will only receive a diagnosis of anxiety or depression, leaving their ADHD untreated. Unfortunately, their anxiety and depression will not go away because it is caused by ADHD.
Additionally, hormonal changes, pregnancy and having a menstrual cycle doubtlessly have an effect on a woman’s ADHD symptoms. More research is needed in that area.
Are There ADHD Treatments Specific to Men or Women?
No, however, experts tailor treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to each individual.
So, a woman with ADHD would be treated differently from an ADHD man, since they both have different behaviors and struggles to overcome.
Similarly, exercise is recommended for anyone with ADHD. Some women prefer to run instead of lift weights, while some men will do nothing but lift weights.
Women and men also have different coping strategies for ADHD. Coping strategies are usually developed through trial and error, so regardless of gender, most people with ADHD cope with it uniquely.
Why Do Medical Professionals Misdiagnose or Under-Diagnose ADHD?
Have you ever heard of Kentucky? Aside from being famous for the Kentucky derby, they are also famous for having the highest rate of children diagnosed with ADHD. Fact: The national average in America is 11%, in Kentucky it is 18.7%.
Your average primary care doctor or pediatrician is unqualified to give someone an ADHD diagnosis. Kentucky is a great example of why you should go to a specialist for an ADHD treatment or diagnosis. Especially if you are a woman, a young girl, or undiagnosed older adult.
What Do Men and Women With ADHD Have in Common?
For starters, both have ADHD. That means they both inherited it from someone in their family and both have a chance to pass it on to their children. It also means they both deal with the same stigma that comes with ADHD. There are countless politicians, CEOs and other successful adults with ADHD. How many of them do you see openly talking about there ADHD? Not many because they fear the discrimination they will face as a result.
Telling your boss at work that you have ADHD is basically asking to be fired. The worst part about the discrimination, is that people with ADHD live in fear of it. This is why many people lie about not having ADHD, so they can join the military, be a police officer, be a teacher, or be a doctor, etc.
The truth of the matter is ADHD does not affect a person’s intelligence. It makes you different. Yet, people are prejudice to anything different, or are at least suspicious of something or someone that is different. That prejudice is easily seen in the name of ADHD: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Don’t live by anyone else’s definition of “normal” other than your own. Otherwise you are doing a disservice to yourself.