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In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with psychiatrist Dr. Sasha Hamdani, we discuss how commonly ADHD is diagnosed in adulthood. We also discuss why ADHD is underdiagnosed and undertreated.

MD Newsline:

How commonly is ADHD diagnosed in adulthood? 

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Dr. Sasha Hamdani:

“ADHD is now starting to get diagnosed in adulthood more often, but it’s still woefully underdiagnosed. Typically, people with ADHD who present in adulthood had symptoms of ADHD as children, and they just weren’t diagnosed. They can become really good at hiding and working around their symptoms, so it can be hard for them to get the diagnosis they need later in life.”

 

MD Newsline:

What factors contribute to the underdiagnosis, misdiagnosis, and undertreatment of ADHD? 

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Dr. Sasha Hamdani:

“There’s a large discrepancy in ADHD diagnosis and treatment among males and females. For a long time, ADHD was thought to be a condition that only impacted little boys. And so, ADHD was characterized very narrowly by hyperactivity and impulsivity. However, girls with ADHD typically present with inattention and are not usually disruptive to anyone besides themselves.

As a result, as girls with ADHD get older, they might get better at hiding their symptoms or be misdiagnosed as being hormonal or having a mood disorder or anxiety disorder. So, for a long time, ADHD symptoms were missed in girls and women because their symptoms weren’t disruptive to anybody else.”

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Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.