All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 27 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Women With ADHD Are Much More Likely To Have A Wide Range Of Mental And Physical Health Problems In Comparison To Women Without ADHD

Women with ADHD have more than 4 times the odds of suicidal thoughts and generalized anxiety disorders and more than twice the odds of major depressive disorder and substance abuse in comparison to women without ADHD.

Toronto, ON

Women with ADHD are much more likely to have a wide range of mental and physical health problems in comparison to women without ADHD, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Toronto.

"The prevalence of mental illness among women with ADHD was disturbingly high with 46% having seriously considered suicide, 36% having generalized anxiety disorder, 31% having major depressive disorder and 39% having substance abuse problems at some point in their life," reported Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair at University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Director of the Institute for Life Course & Aging.

"These rates are much higher than among women without ADHD, ranging from more than four times the odds of suicidal thoughts and generalized anxiety disorders to more than twice the odds of major depressive disorder and substance abuse" said Fuller-Thomson.

One-third of women with ADHD have anxiety disorders, almost half have considered suicide Women with ADHD have more than 4 times the odds of suicidal thoughts and generalized anxiety disorders and more than twice the odds of major depressive disorder and substance abuse in comparison to women without ADHD.

Investigators examined a representative sample of 3,908 Canadian women aged 20 to 39 of whom 107 reported that they had been diagnosed with ADHD. Data was drawn from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health.

"We were surprised at the high levels of physical health problems that the women were experiencing" said Danielle A. Lewis, co-author of the study and a recent MSW graduate of the University of Toronto.

"More than one in four (28%) of these relatively young women said that physical pain prohibited some of their activities, which was much higher than the 9% of their peers without ADHD who had disabling pain. Insomnia was also more prevalent in the women with ADHD in comparison to those without ADHD (43.9% vs 12.2%) as was smoking (41% vs 22%)" stated Lewis.

"Unfortunately, our study does not provide insight into why women with ADHD are so vulnerable. It is possible that some of the mental health problems may be caused by and/or contributing to financial stress" Fuller-Thomson suggested. The study also found, one in three of the women (37%) with ADHD reported they had difficulty meeting basic expenses such as food, shelter and clothing due to their inadequate household income. For women without ADHD, only 13% had this shortfall."

"Many people think of ADHD as primarily a boys' disorder which has little relevance for girls and women. Our findings suggest, to the contrary, that a large portion of women with ADHD are struggling with mental illness, physical health concerns and poverty," said Fuller-Thomson.

"In light of these problems, it is important that primary health care providers are particularly vigilant in monitoring and treating their female patients with ADHD," suggested co-author Senyo Agbeyaka, a graduate student at the University of Toronto.

The results were in a study published online this week in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development.


Disclaimer: anxietycentre.com is not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted at anxietycentre.com by contributing institutions or for the use of any information throughout anxietycentre.com's system.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - we call these core causes the underlying factors of anxiety - a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.


For more information about our Anxiety Therapy, Coaching, Counseling option; our Available Anxiety Therapists; to Book An Appointment with one of our anxiety therapists; common Symptoms of Anxiety; Anxiety Attack Symptoms; anxiety Recovery Support area; common Anxiety Myths; and our Anxiety 101 section; or click on the appropriate graphic below:

Anxiety Therapy Book An Appointment Book An Appointment Anxiety Symptoms Anxiety Attack Symptoms Anxiety Recovery Support Anxiety Myths Anxiety 101

Return to our anxiety research page.

Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated May 6, 2017.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and coaching/counseling/therapy for problematic anxiety and its sensations and symptoms, including the latest in anxiety research: Women With ADHD More Likely To Have Mental Health Problems.