05 October 2022
Prescriptions for ADHD medications in Australia have more than doubled within a decade, with scripts for adults now outnumbering those for children, as rising numbers of women are diagnosed.
Attention deficit hyperactive disorder is a condition characterised by persistent patterns of inattentive, impulsive, and sometimes hyperactive behaviour, and is frequently accompanied by emotional regulation challenges. Traditionally, the condition presents in childhood but often goes undiagnosed. According to ADHD Australia, it affects approximately 814,500 people in this country.
Some women diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood are drawing attention to the condition, as girls with ADHD often have different behaviour to boys with ADHD, so do not get diagnosed and treatment when younger.
Through high-profile women drawing attention to neurodiversity on social media, many girls and women have learned about ADHD and sought assessment.
While some experts say the rising figures reflect a new awareness of ADHD and a reduction in the stigma of taking medication, a 2021 Australian review published in JAMA Psychiatry found ‘evidence of ADHD overdiagnosis and overtreatment in children and adolescents’, particularly those with milder symptoms, but noted evidence gaps remained, and future research was needed.