ADHD In Teenagers Signs Symptoms Treatment
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) Overview
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders, affecting between 8 and 10 percent of children and teens. More boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD.
Teens with ADHD may be hyperactive, act impulsively, or struggle to sit still or pay attention. Although ADHD is often detected in childhood, the symptoms continue to affect many youth into adolescence and adulthood. In adolescence, ADHD symptoms may become more pronounced, manifesting in trouble at school, academic underachievement, substance abuse and difficulty maintaining relationships.
Causes of ADHD
Experts are still uncertain what causes ADHD. Research suggests that ADHD is likely genetic but other factors may also be involved, such as:
- Environment — ADHD may be associated with cigarette smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy as well as lead exposure
- Changes in brain chemistry
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Nutrition — food additives may affect hyperactivity
Scientists are continually exploring other factors that may be associated with ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD
ADHD is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The symptoms of ADHD can range from mild to severe, but in many cases the disorder significantly impacts a teen’s ability to function each day.
There are three basic subtypes of ADHD:
- Predominantly inattentive (majority of symptoms are in the inattention category)
- Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive (majority of symptoms are in the hyperactivity-impulsivity categories)
- Combined hyperactive/impulsive and inattentive
Symptoms of inattention may include:
- Easily distracted
- Difficulty staying focused on completing a given task
- Trouble learning something new
- Easily bored
- Losing things
- Not listening when spoken to
- Slower and less accurate at processing information than other teens
- Daydreaming and confusion
- Struggling to follow directions
Symptoms of hyperactivity may include:
- Constantly moving or talking
- Touching everything in sight
- Struggling to sit still
- Inability to work quietly
- Difficulty sleeping
Symptoms of impulsivity may include:
- Impatient or easily frustrated
- Acting without thinking through consequences
- Interrupting other people
- Difficulty waiting their turn or delaying gratification
- Making inappropriate comments
- Being unable to hold back emotions
ADHD or Something Else?
Teens with symptoms of inattention often have a type of ADHD that goes undiagnosed and untreated. They may sit quietly and get along well with others, but struggle to focus and perform at school. Similarly, teens with hyperactive and impulsive forms of ADHD may go undetected because adults assume that they have emotional or behavioral problems.
ADHD often occurs alongside other disorders. For this reason, teens with ADHD may also exhibit symptoms of other problems, such as anxiety disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, substance abuse and learning disabilities. Research shows that teens with ADHD are more than twice as likely to have a car accident as teens without ADHD. They are also more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs.
Early detection and treatment are critical in addressing ADHD symptoms and preventing problems such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and substance abuse.
There is no cure for ADHD, but there are many treatment options. What works for some may not work for all. For most teens, a combination of medication (such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta) and behavioral therapy will be the most effective.
Behavioral interventions that help teens manage their ADHD symptoms are supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Examples may include:
- ADHD Summer Camps
- ADHD Schools
- Individual, Group and Family Counseling
Specialized ADHD summer camps and ADHD schools provide structured routines and individualized education plans tailored to each student’s learning style as well as social skills training and counseling. Through hands-on lessons and positive reinforcement, teens learn practical skills to stay organized, complete tasks and manage their ADHD symptoms. Small class sizes and plenty of one-on-one attention provide teens with the support they need to excel at school and at home.