Girls with ADHD

Girls at Higher Risk Than Boys

“Like boys with ADHD, girls continue to have problems with academic achievement and relationships, and need special services as they enter early adulthood,” said Stephen Hinshaw, UC Berkeley professor of psychology[2] and lead author of a study that reports after 10 years on the largest-ever sample of girls whose ADHD was first diagnosed in childhood.

The study is published August 14, 2012 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Hinshaw said that the results are consistent with earlier findings by UC Berkeley. As girls suffering from ADHD grow older, their visible symptoms decline, but they continue to suffer in ways that are less obvious.

ADHD Numbers Continue to Grow

There are more than 5 million children between the ages of 3 and 17, who have been diagnosed with ADHD in the United States. According to the CDC the ratio is one out of every eleven children have ADHD.


ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity, distractibility, poor concentration, impulsive behavior, and other symptoms. Treatments often include stimulant medications in combination with behavior therapy.

The latest UC Berkeley study, assessed girls 10 years after the study began, and it examined 140 of girls between the ages of 17-24. It compared their emotional, behavioral, and academic development to a group of 88 similar girls without ADHD.

Study Shows Young Women at Risk

The study’s major finding was that 50% of the ADHD group of girls had engaged in self-injury and more than one-fifth had attempted suicide.

“Our findings argue for the clinical impact of ADHD in female samples, the public health importance of this condition on girls and women, and the need for ongoing examination of underlying mechanisms, especially regarding the high risk of self-harm in young adulthood,” said Hinshaw.

ADHD is a treatable condition. This new study shows that parents, caregivers, and the medical community must not become lax because a girl is entering life as a young adult and that monitoring should continue for a number of years, until there is certainty of no risk.


[1] University of California – Berkeley (2012, August 14). Girls with ADHD more prone to self-injury, suicide as they enter adulthood. ScienceDaily.

[2] Stephen P. Hinshaw, Elizabeth B. Owens, Christine Zalecki, Suzanne Perrigue Huggins, Adriana J. Montenegro-Nevado, Emily Schrodek, Erika N. Swanson. Prospective Follow-Up of Girls With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Into Early Adulthood: Continuing Impairment Includes Elevated Risk for Suicide Attempts and Self-Injury. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2012; DOI: 10.1037/a0029451

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