For moms with Hashimoto’s: Many girls’ ADHD misdiagnosed as depression and anxiety

adhd and girls

girls and adhdStudies have shown that women with Hashimoto’s are at a higher risk of giving birth to a child who develops attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

When we think of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) we think of the boys — they’ve received the lion’s share of diagnoses and attention. But turns out we’re focusing mainly on characteristically boys’ symptoms, leaving a lot of girls in the dust with their symptoms and very bad outcomes in adulthood.

This is important for women with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism to be aware of in their daughters.

While boys act out and are hyperactive, ADHD in girls expresses itself more as disorganization and inattentiveness.

Symptoms include a tendency toward daydreaming, trouble following instructions, and making careless mistakes.

These symptoms can lead to feelings of shame for girls who feel the pressure to perform. They see these symptoms as personal flaws instead of a neurological condition.

Sadly, this continual sense of failure can lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and a four to five times greater risk of self-harm and suicide.

These girls are more likely to have fewer friendships and get into unhealthy and abusive relationships that mirror their inner lack of self worth.

Girls tend to develop ADHD later than boys and it can get worse as they get older. Many don’t get diagnosed until adulthood and spend their lives trying to manage it on their own and feeling shame about it.

While moms with Hashimoto’s should be on the lookout for autoimmune diseases in their children, ADHD is another concern. In fact, children with ADHD are found to have higher rates of autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Missing the cues of ADHD in girls whose mothers have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

The diagnosis of ADHD in girls has increased 55 percent in recent years, compared to 40 percent for boys. Despite this increase, many girls still go undiagnosed (while there is over diagnosis of boys).

This is because the symptoms of feeling unfocused and disorganized lead to depression and anxiety. As a result, girls miss out on services that may help their symptoms in childhood and instead are prescribed anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications, which can exacerbate symptoms of ADHD. Many doctors also believe girls can’t get ADHD.

Many women with Hashimoto’s are familiar with the routine of being prescribed antidepressants for an undiagnosed autoimmune thyroid disease.

ADHD in adult women

As women take on careers and raising children, masking their symptoms of ADHD can become more difficult.

The researchers found that adult women with high IQs and ADHD suffer from constant feelings of being frantic and overwhelmed trying to manage day-to-day basics. Adult women have become the fastest growing users of ADHD medications.

If you’re a mom with Hashimoto’s, it’s important to consider autoimmune disease and neurological issues such as ADHD since you can help your daughter understand her symptoms.

Hashimoto’s, ADHD, and functional medicine

With autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s and neurological disorders such as ADHD, we always seek to support the brain and the underlying causes as much as possible. This can mean looking at foods that are inflammatory to the brain and the immune system (gluten is a primary one) and the role of gut health, another known link to brain health and immune function. With Hashimoto’s, immune function must be addressed so symptoms can be managed.

For more advice on ADHD and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, please contact me.

Joni Labbe

About Joni Labbe

Dr. Joni Labbe is a board-certified clinical nutritionist specializing in science-based nutrition with a focus on women's health issues. She has successfully helped pre-menopausal and menopausal women regain and maintain their health since 1995. Dr. Labbe is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Thyroid & Menopause Madness and It’s Not Just Menopause: It’s Your Thyroid. She is also a professional speaker, radio personality, fitness expert, and former host of “Healthier Way With Dr. Labbe.” Dr. Labbe is one of the country’s leading authorities on thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s disease. Dr. Labbe has also authored numerous articles and blogs on health, nutrition, and thyroid health, as seen in Naturally Savvy, Thyroid Nation, and Fox News. She is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Doctor of Chiropractic, and has post graduate training in Functional Neurology, Functional Endocrinology, Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis, and earned a Diplomate and Fellow in Nutrition from the American Association of Integrative Medicine.

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