09.25.134:51 PM ET

The Difference in ADHD Between Boys and Girls

Symptoms for girls are disorganization, forgetfulness, anxiety.

It’s estimated that there are close to 4 million women with undiagnosed ADHD—between half three quarters of all women with the disorder. Why does it go unnoticed in women? For one, the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are most closely associated with hyperactive white boys. Meanwhile, girls are more likely to be anxious and depressive—the symptoms of forgetfulness and disorganization are the same, but girls tend to be more introspective. Another reason: boys’ symptoms tend to decrease after puberty, while the opposite is true for girls—or at least the symptoms are not obvious until they are older. Women are often diagnosed with ADHD in their 20s after suffering from depression and anxiety for years. “For a long time, these girls see their trouble prioritizing, organizing, coordinating, and paying attention as character flaws. No one told them it's neurobiological,” says Sari Solden, the author of Women and Attention Deficit Disorder.