ADHD: Males vs Females

Posted by Sara Van Schyndel on

ADHD Males vs Females

ADHD is not a blanket diagnosis, it’s a little more complicated, and even trickier to diagnosis. 

ADHD can look different from one human to the next, from male to female and from age to age. Some people have lived with it all their lives, without even realizing it. Others have known from a young age, either through self identification or their parents realized something wasn’t quite “right” when their child was growing up. Then there is the male vs female differences. Boys are often diagnosed by age 7, while girls are often not diagnosed until age 12, until adulthood or sometimes not even at all. 

Let’s break it down a little further:

Signs and Symptoms in Males vs Female (children):

  • Males often show external symptoms, such as running, impulsivity and more physically aggressive
  • Females often show internalized symptoms, such as low self-esteem, inattentiveness and more verbally aggressive
  • Males often externalize their frustrations - getting physical with others or throwing objects etc 
  • Females internalize their pain and anger - which puts them at a higher risk for depression, anxiety and eating disorders (especially if undiagnosed)

Female Children

Male Children

Being Withdrawn

Impulsivity, “Acting out”

Low-Self Esteem

Hyperactivity - Running, hitting


Lack of Focus - Including Inattentiveness

Intellectual Impairment

Inability to Sit Still

Difficulty with Academic Achievement

Physical Aggression

Inattention/Day Dreaming

Talking Excessively

Trouble Focusing

Frequently Interrupting other people's conversations, activities

Appearing Not to Listen

Verbal Aggression - name calling, teasing, taunting


If a female child is not diagnosed during their childhood, they may struggle as an adult and still may never be diagnosed. 

Receiving a diagnosis of ADHD as an adult can be tricky, especially for females.  But more on that in the next post…