For women and girls ADHD is often a hidden disorder, ignored or misdiagnosed, causing them to suffer in silence. Without proper treatment, many females with ADHD experience psychological and academic impairments.
Our founder, Kathleen Nadeau, PhD with Patricia Quinn, MD, wrote the first book about girls with ADHD and one of the first books on women with ADHD. Their groundbreaking work was widely recognized and they were awarded the CHADD Hall of Fame Award in 1999.
Our focus today on the needs of women and girls is much broader than ADHD. Women and girls are more likely to suffer from anxiety and mood disorders. And their profile continues to lead to missed ADHD diagnoses as girls and women often compensate for their ADHD challenges through developing OCD-like behaviors. Women seeking a diagnosis are often diagnosed with co-existing conditions including anxiety and depression while their ADHD is overlooked. And sadly, common co-existing conditions such as eating disorders and substance use disorders are not treated within the context of ADHD.
There is a great need to make both the professional mental health community and the general public aware of the large emotional and cognitive impact that hormonal fluctuations in females can cause – at puberty, in pregnancy and postnatal hormonal fluctuations, and in peri-menopause and menopause. Estrogen levels have a large impact upon anxiety, mood and cognition, yet psychiatrists and psychologists are not trained in this area.
Our services for girls and women at Chesapeake includes DBT skills training to help girls and women develop better emotion regulation skills, groups for women with ADHD and for mothers of children with ADHD. We plan to address the whole range of women’s mental health issues and to create collaborative relationships with care providers outside of Chesapeake whose services can compliment our services.