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Bay Area Study Finds Girls with ADHD Have Problems as Adults

The UC Berkeley study, which followed 140 Bay Area girls for a decade, says girls with ADHD have more self-injury and suicide attempts as they enter adulthood.

Bay City News Service—A new psychology study from the University of California at Berkeley published Tuesday finds that girls with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are more prone to self-injury and suicide attempts as they enter adulthood.

UC Berkeley psychology professor Stephen Hinshaw, the lead author of the study, which was funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, found that girls with ADHD were more likely to internalize their struggles as they enter adulthood.

After 10 years of studying the largest-ever sample group of girls diagnosed with ADHD during childhood, the study analyzes the changes as the group of females moved from adolescence to adulthood.

A group of 140 girls from the San Francisco Bay Area, all diagnosed with ADHD, were monitored for a decade. Of the girls in the study, 95 percent stayed on for the full ten years, according to researchers.

Researchers compared the girls behavioral, social and academic development with a similar group of girls without ADHD and have conducted three studies on their findings, released at the beginning of the study, five years into the study and tens years into the study.

According to the 2007 study, researchers found that when girls were experiencing early to mid-adolescence, their fidgety and impulsive symptoms tended to subside, but the learning gap with their non-ADHD peers widened. Eating disorders and substance abuse also began to surface.

For the 2012 study, researchers conducted intensive interviews with the girls finding that there was a high-risk of self-harm as they reached young adulthood. The findings of the latest study challenge the assumption that girls, unlike boys, can outgrow ADHD and emphasizes the need for long-term treatment of the disorder in women.

Hinshaw is the author of The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Girls from Today’s Pressures (Ballantine Books, 2009).

Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Women and girls with ADHD and their families: do these study findings reflect your experiences? Tell us in the comments section below.

Jaan Carter August 19, 2012 at 05:22 PM
I wonder if this study looked at the diets of these girls, the stress they were under, exercise patterns, etc. The push of Big Pharma to medicate, medicate, medicate is highly suspect in my mind.
Jaan Carter August 19, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Also, after seeing the effects of drugs like Paxil, I just wonder if the drugs being used might actually CAUSE suicidal thinking/behaviors.
Heather C. Martin August 19, 2012 at 10:18 PM
My sister is 45 and has struggled with ADHD her whole life. Yes, the diagnosis needs to be made carefully, and the decision to medicate is not one to take lightly, but Dexedrine saved my sister's life. She took it all through childhood, then was told she "outgrew" it and stopped in Junior High. Well, after dropping out if high school, then getting pregnant at 15, YEARS of welfare, a good doctor finally put her back on it, and she was able to finish High School, get her AA and eventually work as a psych tech. Unfortunately, both her children have ADHD, too. Luckily, they are treated appropriately and doing well.
Jaan Carter August 19, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Thanks, Heather. I've been researching, on my own, the effects of diet on many things, and am wondering if diet could have a bigger effect than we may now know.

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