Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder effects approximately between 5 and 10 percent of children, teenagers and adults in the United Kingdom with as many as 1 percent of the population being severely effected by the behaviour disorder. The condition is believed to develop at around 18 months of age, however, it is extremely difficult to diagnose before the age of 6 as many of the symptoms are also experienced by young children as normal stages of development. There is a substantial amount of individual variation in the symptoms of each sufferer.
The condition is arguably hereditary with a child diagnosed with ADHD more likely than not having a parent who expresses symptoms of the disorder. It has also been found that children diagnosed with ADHD come from dysfunctional families, this doesn’t mean they have been subjected to abuse or poor parenting but the fact that one or both parents may also suffer from ADHD can influence parenting techniques.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is diagnosed three times more in boys than girls. There have been a number of theories that have been put forward to account for this gender difference.
Some experts argue that girls and boys suffer from the condition at similar rates, however, it is left undetected in girls more than boys. This may be due to the fact that girls suffering from ADHD, tend to show less aggressive and impulsive behaviour and are less likely to suffer from conduct disorder in addition to ADHD. It has also been suggested that female sufferers who primarily experience symptoms of inattention could be misdiagnosed as daydreaming, while boys, who primarily suffer from symptoms of hyperactivity and behavioural problems are significantly less likely to go unnoticed.
This idea is supported by the fact that ADHD diagnosed in adulthood has much less of a gender gap.
There are also gender differences in the presence of other conditions as well as ADHD suffered by men and women. Women diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are more likely to suffer from disorders including compulsive overeating, chronic sleep deprivation and alcohol abuse. Women are also more likely than men to suffer from low self-esteem and psychological distress. However, the rates of depression and anxiety disorder suffered by both male and female patients diagnosed with ADHD are similar.