Teen ADD/ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders. It generally affects people of all ages, but it is most commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents.

Around 3.3 million children aged 12 to 17 years old are diagnosed with this disorder, and it is said that boys are 2 to 3 times more likely to have combined or hyperactive ADHD than girls. The symptoms can be incredibly frustrating and challenging to manage for teens as they navigate their turbulent adolescent years.

Teen ADD/ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders. It generally affects people of all ages, but it is most commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents.

Around 3.3 million children aged 12 to 17 years old are diagnosed with this disorder, and it is said that boys are 2 to 3 times more likely to have combined or hyperactive ADHD than girls. The symptoms can be incredibly frustrating and challenging to manage for teens as they navigate their turbulent adolescent years.

What is ADD/ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common mental disorder in children and adolescents. It is characterized by problems with focus, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.
The disorder was once called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), which is why you will often hear the disorder referred to in this way. Psychiatrists have split ADD into two types — ADD with hyperactivity and ADD without hyperactivity. The terms have since been combined under the one term, ADHD.

Signs-and-symptoms-of-adhd

Subtypes of ADD/ADHD

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation

This type of ADHD is characterized mainly by problems with focus and attention, making it challenging to stay on task. Kids with this type may be easily sidetracked, have trouble completing assignments, and frequently forget things.

The following criteria must be present for a diagnosis:

  • Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16
  • Five or more symptoms of inattention for ages 17 and older
  • Symptoms must not be due to another medical or psychological condition
  • Symptoms are present for at least six months and are inappropriate for the development level of the individual

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation

Problems with hyperactivity and impulsiveness mark this type. Teens with this type may constantly be fidgeting and squirming, have trouble sitting still, and be very impatient. They may also act without thinking things through, impulsively blurting out comments, or engaging in risky behaviors.

People must meet the following criteria for a diagnosis:

  • Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness for children up to age 16
  • Five or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness for ages 17 and older
  • Symptoms are present for at least six months and are considered disruptive

Combined Presentation

An individual may be diagnosed with this type if the symptoms of the two types – inattention and hyperactivity – are exhibited for at least six months.

Causes of ADHD

Scientists are still trying to figure out the causes of ADHD. The reason remains unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is still much research in this area; however, scientists are making progress in understanding this disorder.

In addition, scientists are also exploring other possible causes or risk factors of ADHD listed below:

  • Exposure to lead or other toxins during pregnancy
  • Premature birth or low birth weight
  • Brain injuries
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke or alcohol during pregnancy

Keep in mind that this disorder is not caused by eating too much sugar, watching too much television, or poor parenting, as some stereotypes and misconceptions may suggest.

Treatment for Teens Diagnosed with ADHD

As of this moment, there are no cures for ADHD. However, treatments are available to help manage the symptoms if your teenager has been diagnosed with ADHD.

Treatment plans should be tailored to each individual, as no two people with ADHD are the same. It is best to consult with a mental health specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Some common treatments for the disorder include medication, therapy, and education.

Medication

Medication can help improve focus and reduce impulsiveness and hyperactivity in people with ADHD. There are a variety of drugs available, and your doctor will work with you to find the one that is best for your teenager.

Common ADHD medicines are classified as either stimulants or non-stimulants.

Stimulants are the most commonly prescribed medications for this disorder and help improve focus and decrease impulsiveness. Medications work immediately, but their duration depends on whether the patient has taken a short-acting or long-acting formula.

  • Short-acting formulas last for about 4 hours.
  • Long-acting formulas last for about 12 hours, which is helpful for teens who need to focus during the day.

Non-stimulants are not as commonly prescribed as stimulants, but they can be just as effective for some people. Non-stimulants do not work as quickly as stimulants do. They can take up to a few weeks before they start to work, but they can last up to 24 hours.

Medication Side Effects

According to the Cleveland Clinic, stimulants have been known to cause some side effects such as decreased appetite, sleep problems, stomachache, headaches, dry mouth, and dizziness. If your teenager experiences any of these side effects, be sure to speak with their doctor.
On the other hand, non-stimulants do not cause as many side effects as stimulants.

Therapy

Therapy can help teenagers learn how to manage their ADHD symptoms. Trained therapists can guide strategies for improving focus, controlling impulses, and managing stress, especially if they are ADHD specialists.

Therapy may also include parent training, which can help parents learn to better support and manage their teen with ADHD. Examples of treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, and psychoeducation.

Education

Education is also important for teenagers with ADHD. They will need to learn about their condition and how they can best manage it, including learning about their medications, developing coping skills, and setting achievable goals.

Parents should also educate themselves on the topic to provide the best support possible. They can help their teenager stay on track and manage any challenges.

The Role of Parents

Parents have a critical role in helping their children manage the disorder. They can help by creating a structured environment at home and providing clear and consistent rules. They can also do the following:

  • Be patient and understanding. Teens who struggle with ADHD will often find it difficult to complete homework assignments on time or follow the rules consistently, and this behavior can be a real test of patience for parents.
  • Empathize with your child. It can be frustrating for parents when their teens act in ways that seem disobedient or lazy. However, it is important to remember that these teens are not trying to be difficult on purpose. They are simply struggling with the condition that makes it harder for them to focus and stay organized.
  • Set a good example. If parents are constantly stressed out and overwhelmed, their children will likely feel the same way. Parents should take some time for themselves to recharge and stay calm, as this will help them be more patient and understanding with their children.
  • Get professional help. Finally, parents should consult with a doctor if they have any questions or concerns about their child’s ADD/ADHD. The doctor can provide helpful advice and prescribe medication if necessary.

Conclusion

ADHD can be a challenge for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for teenagers. They are dealing with all the challenges of adolescence while also trying to cope with the disorder. However, with the right help and support, they can manage their ADHD and thrive.

Parents can learn about ADHD and its symptoms and find the proper treatment for their teens by contacting the Hillside Horizon team. We have many options available, from medication to therapy to lifestyle changes; with patience and perseverance, it is possible for teens with ADHD to lead happy and successful lives.