Women with ADHD more impaired than men

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Although boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appear to be more impulsive and troubled than their female counterparts, in adulthood the condition seems to have more impact in women than in men.

“We found that adult women with ADHD frequently have high levels of emotional symptoms as well as the cognitive problems found in ADHD,” Dr. Frederick W. Reimherr told Reuters Health.

In the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Reimherr of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and his colleagues describe their analysis of data from two clinical trials of Strattera, known generically as atomoxetine, in adults with


In all, the researchers collected information on ADHD symptoms and treatment response in 515 individuals, about a third of whom were women.

More women (75 percent) had combined-type ADHD than did men (62 percent). Women also had higher scores on measures of anxiety and depression and had more sleep problems.

Poor temper control, mood volatility, and emotional over-reactivity were more common in women (37 percent) than in men (29 percent).

In contrast to results of studies involving children, “women were more impaired than men on ADHD scales in our study,” the investigators conclude.

Moreover, continued Reimherr, “these symptoms -- depression, temper control problems, feelings of tension, and over-reacting to life stresses -- might cause a doctor to miss the diagnosis of ADHD ... We feel that this will lead to problems in treatment for such women.”

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, February 2008.