Silent Suffering: The Gender Disparity in ADHD Diagnosis and Its Mental Health Implications for Females

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Lowey, Christy-Ann
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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has historically been understood through the lens of research primarily focused on males, owing to the externalized symptomatic presentation commonly associated with the condition. Diagnosis and treatment protocols for ADHD have largely evolved from studies predominantly involving male participants. However, there is a growing recognition of the need to understand how ADHD manifests in females. Beyond the commonly explored symptoms, such as inattention and hyperactivity, a nuanced examination reveals a profound impact of emotional dysregulation, particularly among women. The ability to emotionally regulate is often cited in the literature as the most impairing deficit associated with ADHD that prolongs throughout the lifespan for both males and females. This underexplored area emphasizes a narrative of underrecognition and while suggesting a potential for further research within the domain of mental health. This paper reviews the nuanced relationship between ADHD, emotional regulation, and associated factors such as rejection sensitivity and the autonomic nervous system. While drawing on polyvagal theory to provide a framework into the ADHD presentation in females, suggesting a need for internal safety.
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , rejection sensitivity , emotional regulation , polyvagal theory , comorbidity , autonomic nervous system
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