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