Simone Biles Blasts the ADHD Stigma

September 13th 2016

Lucy Tiven

Simone Biles wasn't fazed when Russian hackers released her medical files Tuesday, revealing that the USA Gymnastics star is taking medication for Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.


Biles took the opportunity to bravely speak out in two powerful tweets against the stigma of ADHD and taking medication to treat the condition.

Many female public figures have spoken out about mental illness in recent years, but ADHD diagnoses and medications are uniquely taboo issues among women.

This is partly due to the stereotype that ADHD is most associated with hyperactive young boys' disruptions in elementary school classrooms, The Atlantic reported.


This stereotype can lead women of all ages to suffer in silence from ADHD symptoms — which often appear differently in women from the way they do in men.

Unlike young boys with ADHD, who tend to act out, girls tend to internalize the disorder, which has been linked to other psychological issues and a high risk of depression, self injury, substance abuse, and even suicide, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Girl Thinking

When it comes to diagnosing ADHD, girls are often left behind because of these differences, Quartz reported.

Taking ADHD medication — as Biles and many other women do — can be source of shame because of the high rates at which prescription stimulants prescribed to treat the disorder are abused as study drugs, weight-loss aids, and recreational drugs.


Research shows that ADHD medications affect people with the disorder differently from those who have not been diagnosed with it.

But in the popular imagination, all people who take these drugs can get lumped together and stereotyped negatively.

Studies have illustrated that patients with the disorder can face discrimination and prejudice and shame as a result of the stigma it carries.

Biles' words are an inspiring and sobering reminder that ADHD can affect anyone — even an Olympic medalist — and treating it is nothing to be ashamed of.

The team, for its part, issued a statement explaining that Biles' medication regimen was perfectly legal under a therapeutic use exemption of drugs otherwise prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

[h/t the Cut]