Girls with ADHD run greater risk of dying young

Doctors warn that female attention deficit sufferers are too often being overlooked

Girls and young women with ADHD are up to five times more likely to die early than the rest of the population. The leading cause of death is accidents. Doctors say that women and girls with ADHD are not getting the attention they deserve.

A study conducted by researchers including child and adolescent psychiatrist Søren Dahlsgaard from Aarhus University suggested women are being short-changed.

“We are failing girls,” Dahlsgaard told Metroxpress. “The study shows patients who are diagnosed with ADHD after the age of 18 have a five times greater risk of dying an unnatural death.”

Too little help, often too late
Dahlsgaard said girls are often diagnosed with and treated for ADHD much later than boys. Tine Houmann, the head doctor of child and adolescent psychiatry in the capital region, agreed that girls and women are often diagnosed too late.

“There is less awareness about girls with ADHD because their symptoms are not as obvious as the boys,” said Houmann. “They are more introverted, whereas boys are noisy and exhibit many behavioural symptoms.”

Can lead to more serious problems
Boys and young men up to the age of 32 who have been diagnosed with ADHD carry twice the mortality risk as those without the diagnosis. The risk for  women is even higher.

“Girls are diagnosed only half as often as boys,” said Dahlsgaard. “Then, only half of those receive help, so only one girl out of four is getting the help she needs.”

READ MORE: Danish ADHD study makes grim reading for trigger-happy diagnosis countries like the US

Research shows that people with ADHD who go untreated run a higher risk of drifting into crime and drug abuse. They are also more prone to becoming suicidal.