What Are The Signs of ADHD in Teens?

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Key warning signs and symptoms that can help a parent or guardian better understand and identify ADHD.

ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a common mental health condition that affects people of all ages. For children and teens, it’s one of the most widespread common mental health conditions. Luckily, it is also a very treatable condition if you work with a doctor or an adolescent treatment program.

However, ADHD can be a difficult mental health disorder to identify because many of the most common symptoms are expressed by almost every child or teenager. High levels of activity, difficulties sitting still, and problems with organization are common for children and teens of any age. In fact, many of these symptoms are common in adults, as well. However, if your teen is expressing many of the ADHD symptoms (roughly 6 to 7 at least), then you may want to schedule an expert diagnosis. There is no test to automatically determine whether your teen has ADHD, but by working with a mental health expert, you can feel more confident in your assessment and then work to develop a path toward treatment.

Here, we’re taking a closer look at ADHD in teens, specifically the key warning signs and symptoms, that can help a parent or guardian better understand and identify this mental health disorder.

What is ADHD?

ADHD, which stands for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a common mental health condition that affects many children, young adults, and teenagers. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), ADHD may include symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or a combination of these symptoms. Almost 9 percent of children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD.

While this mental health condition is not life-threatening, it can impact your teen’s schoolwork and their social development. Teens with untreated ADHD may find it more difficult to focus in school, build and maintain social relationships, and function in various settings, like school or the workplace.

Is ADHD the Same as ADD?

It’s common to be confused, especially if you’re outside of the medical field, about the difference between attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and attention-deficit disorder (ADD). Are they the same or are there any relevant differences between the two issues?

Generally speaking, ADD is now an outdated term when referring to this mental health disorder. ADHD is now viewed as the official medical term. However, in some cases, ADD is used to refer to a specific type of ADHD—inattentive type ADHD. This specific type of ADHD is usually expressed as apathy, disinterest, or forgetfulness in teens. A key factor here is that inattentive type ADHD is not associated with any hyperactive behaviors.

What are the Signs of ADHD in Teens?

As previously noted, it can be a challenge for a parent to determine whether or not their child or teen actually has ADHD. Many of the symptoms, such as restlessness or hyperactivity, are common in younger children and teenagers. Expressing these symptoms does not necessarily mean your child has a mental health or behavioral issue.

To understand the signs and symptoms of ADHD in teens, you first have to break down the three different types of this disorder: inattentive type, hyperactive impulsive type, or combined type. While hyperactive impulsive type can often be more noticeable, inattentive type can also seriously impact your child or teen’s development.

Here’s a look at the most common signs of the different types of ADHD:

Inattentive Type ADHD Symptoms

Signs of inattentive type ADHD may include:

  • Difficulties staying focused in school.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Apathetic towards things that once interested them.
  • Issues with staying dedicated to one task at a time.
  • Easily losing things.
  • Forgets daily tasks.
  • May not listen when spoken to.
  • Challenges with organization in their personal and school lives.

Hyperactive Impulsive Type ADHD Symptoms

Signs of hyperactive impulsive type ADHD may include:

  • Trouble sitting still.
  • Constantly moving or fidgeting.
  • Intense bouts of energy.
  • Talking excessively, or for younger children, speaking out of turn.
  • Unable to enjoy quiet or leisurely activities.
  • Can’t stay seated.
  • Trouble waiting for their turn.
  • Interrupts others, whether in lines, playing games, or while speaking.

Combined Type ADHD Symptoms

As the name suggests, this third type of ADHD is expressed by a combination of symptoms from both inattentive type ADHD and hyperactive impulsive type ADHD. Since each case of ADHD is unique to the individual, it’s important to not let one or two symptoms make you automatically assume your child or teen has this disorder. Rather, experts claim that your teen should show 6 to 7 symptoms for you to then engage further with the possibility. If you believe your teen is suffering from ADHD, visiting your physician is an important first step. They can either help you diagnose your teen or refer you to a mental health expert who can.

Is ADHD Different for Boys and Girls?

Data shows that young men receive far more ADHD diagnoses than young women—but why is this? Looking just at the data, one would assume that boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, but there is no indicator that gender plays a role in one’s likelihood to have ADHD. So, what’s really at work here?

Mental health experts note that boys, when compared to girls, tend to show more external symptoms of ADHD. As a result, this may make these cases easier to diagnose. While boys often show external symptoms, such as acting out, restlessness, or hyperactive behaviors, young girls tend to internalize their symptoms. This means they may more commonly act withdrawn, isolated, easily distracted, and have difficulties with organization. Of course, the division between symptoms of boys and girls with ADHD is not absolute. Girls can still show external symptoms while boys may still experience internal symptoms. This is another reason why it’s so critical to seek out professional help in diagnosing your teen.

Conclusion – What are the Signs of ADHD in Teens?

ADHD is one of the most common mental health disorders for children and teenagers. While it can disrupt their school success and social lives, it is a very treatable condition. By understanding the signs of ADHD in teens, you can better support your teen and help them find professional help that will enable them to live happy, successful lives.