Signs, Symptoms, and Effects of Teen ADHD

Understanding Teen ADHD

Learn More About Teen ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition that affects an individual’s cognitive focus and the ability to regulate his or her behavior. This condition is often first diagnosed in childhood when academic difficulties become apparent in spite of a student’s verified aptitude.

When there is a discrepancy between a teen’s intellectual ability and his or her academic performance, ADHD may be the cause. An inability to focus on the task at hand in the learning environment and difficulty regulating hyperactivity will make adhering to educational activities in the classroom setting an incredibly difficult feat. The ability to engage with opportunities and to comply with expectations in the public school setting is a key life task for most teenagers. But when young people find it difficult to succeed in this setting, frustrations can arise, resulting in maladaptive coping mechanisms.

Some teens attempt to regulate symptoms of their ADHD through the misuse of illicit substances, and others begin to develop signs of depression and low self-esteem. In light of the many damaging effects that ADHD can have on a young person, experts recommend connecting teens in need of mental health support with a quality treatment center offering specialized care for adolescents suffering from ADHD and other co-occurring conditions.

There is no cure for ADHD but, thankfully, receiving the appropriate, comprehensive treatment needed can help individuals learn how to manage their symptoms. Furthermore, appropriate care can help those with ADHD live successfully and lead highly productive lives.


Statistics of ADHD in Teens

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3 to 5 percent, or about 2 million, of American teens suffer from ADHD or ADD. This means that approximately 7 percent of parents will have a teen with ADD or ADHD and that an average classroom in the United States is likely to have at least one teen ADD or ADHD.

Causes & Risks

Causes and Risk Factors for Teens with ADHD

A disease with childhood onset, the development of ADHD has been shown to be connected with certain possible causes and risk factors, including the following:

Genetic: The American Psychiatrists Association (APA) considers ADHD to be a heritable condition. This means that having a first degree relative such as a parent or sibling with an ADHD diagnosis puts a teen at increased risk for developing the disorder.

Environmental: Some studies indicate a relationship between prenatal exposure to cigarettes and alcohol and an increased risk for ADHD in children. Additionally, the APA also cites data correlating low birth weight with a higher likelihood that a child will go on to develop ADHD later in life.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of ADHD
  • Prenatal exposure to cigarettes
  • Being male
  • Reduced behavioral inhibition
  • History of child abuse
  • Prenatal exposure to alcohol
  • Possessing a novelty-seeking temperament
  • Possessing negative emotionality
  • Having multiple foster care placements

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Teen ADHD

Adults who work with teens may at times have trouble discerning between typical teen behavior and signs of a condition that might be ADHD. This condition can manifest in a variety of ways including the Inattentive, hyperactive, or combined types, all of which can vary depending on the individual. If a teen in your life begins showing several of the symptoms below, it would be worthwhile to have an assessment from a mental health professional:

Inattentive type:

  • Dislikes or avoids tasks that require mental effort
  • Problems with organization
  • Appears to have problems listening
  • Has a tendency to lose things
  • Is unable to pay attention to details or has a tendency to make careless mistakes
  • Is easily distracted
  • Forgetfulness
  • Has difficulty maintaining attention during tasks or activities
  • Has a difficult time following directions

Hyperactive-impulsive type:

  • Has a hard time waiting his or her turn
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others
  • Talks excessively
  • Has a hard time staying seated
  • Seems to always be on-the-go
  • Frequently speaks without thinking
  • Is constantly fidgeting or squirming

Combined type: This is the most common presentation of ADHD and includes mixture of symptoms of both the inattentive type and the hyperactive-impulsive type.


Effects of Teen ADHD

If a teen does not acquire help for his or her ADHD, he or she will be faced with many difficulties including:

  • Having more accidents and obtaining injuries
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Academic failure
  • Increased risk for substance abuse
  • Difficulty interacting with and being accepted by peers
  • Occupational failure
  • Problems at home

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders & the Complexity of Teen ADHD

Like many other mental health conditions, ADHD is often accompanied by other disorders which can exacerbate one’s symptoms. The following mental health conditions are likely to be found within one that also has an ADHD diagnosis:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Tic disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
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