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5 Signs of ADHD in Teens

Adolescence is a time of significant change that often results in unpredictable moodiness, irrational thinking, and behavioral issues. Because of this, parents can struggle to know whether their child is an ordinary teen or if there is an underlying issue that needs attention. One of the more challenging issues for parents to identify in teens is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which, according to the CDC, impacts 3.3 million teens between the ages of 12-17.

If you’re questioning the need for help with your teen, Beyond Healthcare can help. We provide comprehensive, holistic mental health therapies for ADHD in teens. Through our mental health assessment and diagnosis services, we can help determine your teen’s needs and create a treatment plan unique to them. Contact us at 833.698.0453 for a free consultation in Toledo, Ohio.

What Is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder commonly diagnosed in early childhood. However, ADHD can often go undiagnosed, particularly in girls or when children exhibit milder symptoms. Boys are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls. Many symptoms of ADHD are viewed as typical boy behavior, so they are often overlooked as such, except in severe cases.

While the exact cause of ADHD is undetermined, research shows that it occurs when the growth of the prefrontal cortex falls behind that of the rest of brain development. ADHD is characterized by an ongoing pattern of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with development or functioning. The three types of ADHD are:

Predominantly inattentive – Over the last six months, they have had enough symptoms to meet the diagnostic criteria of inattention, but not hyperactive-impulsivity
Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive – Over the last six months, they had enough symptoms to meet the diagnostic criteria for hyperactive-impulsivity, but not inattention
Combined – They have enough symptoms over the past six months to meet the diagnostic criteria for inattention and hyperactive-impulsivity

As children with ADHD age, their symptoms change. Therefore, ADHD in adolescence presents differently than it does in earlier childhood.

5 Signs of ADHD in Teens

If you suspect your teen has ADHD, you may look back on their childhood years through a different lens and recognize overlooked symptoms. Many parents of teens diagnosed with ADHD during adolescence often experience an “aha” moment where early childhood challenges make more sense in retrospect.

For most, the symptoms of ADHD change over time, often becoming less severe. For example, teens may experience restlessness, but the levels of hyperactivity tend to decrease significantly. By contrast, inattentiveness or lack of focus tends to become more evident, especially as the demands of schoolwork increase.

Consider the following five signs of ADHD in teens:

  1. Poor academic performance – Teens with ADHD can struggle with organization, focus, attention in class, testing, and completing assignments, all of which negatively impact academic success.
  2. Heightened emotionality – Poor emotional regulation makes typical mood swings more severe in teens with ADHD, who are easily frustrated, struggle to control their emotions, and are more prone to angry outbursts.
  3. Difficulty reading social cues – Teens with ADHD may struggle to find and keep friends because they miss social cues, have poor communication skills, and act impulsively. They are more subject to bullying.
  4. Risky behavior – Smoking, drinking, drug experimentation or abuse, and unsafe sex are all more likely in teens with ADHD. Additionally, these behaviors tend to begin earlier compared to teens without ADHD.
  5. Self-focused behavior – Teens with ADHD can seem selfish because they struggle to recognize the wants and needs of others. They may have difficulty taking turns or waiting for things they want or want to do.

Other common signs of ADHD in teens include procrastination, daydreaming, inability to follow directions, difficulty following conversations, fidgeting, fear of rejection, personal hygiene issues, and trouble compromising. Not every teen with ADHD has all of these symptoms, and having many of these signs does not mean your teen has ADHD. When in doubt, it is always best to seek professional help.

Contact Beyond Healthcare to Learn More About ADHD in Teens

Through proper assessment and diagnosis, the Beyond Healthcare team can help your teen and family manage the symptoms of adolescent ADHD. Contact us at 833.698.0453 to learn more about ADHD in teens and the benefits of our outpatient programs.