The teen years are challenging for anyone. During this period, teens undergo tremendous emotional, social, and biological changes that can impact their mood and behavior.
While it’s typical for teens to experience challenges that make them more easily distracted, excitable, or on edge, there is a point where their symptoms are more than just “teens being teens.”
Sometimes, teens may be dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD can cause their behavior to become problematic at home and school. They may face disciplinary problems, use illegal substances, or engage in conduct that endangers their safety.
This article will break down what adolescent ADHD is, how to identify it, and how to treat it effectively so teens can get through the adolescent years feeling more in control of their emotions and behavior.
Most people with ADHD are diagnosed as children; however, this is not always the case. Some people do not get diagnosed until they are teens or adults.
Children diagnosed with ADHD are likely to continue showing symptoms into adolescence and adulthood. Researchers have found that 80 – 85 percent of pre-teens diagnosed with ADHD have symptoms in their teens, and 60 percent continue presenting symptoms into adulthood.
Adolescent ADHD can present differently for different people. Specific ADHD symptoms might tamper down as kids grow older, while others will flare up or suddenly appear, seemingly out of nowhere.
Having ADHD can make an already turbulent time even more confusing and disorienting. Some common signs of ADHD in adolescents include:
Looking at the list, it is easy to see how ADHD could go undiagnosed for years. Most, if not all, people exhibit at least some of these symptoms from time to time.
The problem happens when a person exhibits most of these issues most of the time. Being unable to pay attention, focus, or follow through on essential tasks can be detrimental to your child’s school performance. These symptoms can impact their social life by impeding activities such as sports teams or clubs.
Another serious challenge with adolescent ADHD is the increase in impulsive and risky behavior.
People with ADHD may be more likely to take risks and participate in thrill-seeking behavior that puts themselves and others in harm’s way. Researchers suggest that people with ADHD may have an exaggerated view of the positive rewards of risky behavior that makes them ignore the consequences of their actions.
Teens with ADHD can get into much more trouble than kids under closer supervision. For example, studies have shown that teens with ADHD have a 62 percent higher rate of car crashes within their first month of getting a license and a 37 percent higher rate of crashes within four years of getting their license.
The reasons for these significantly higher car crash rates are concerning. Researchers point to an increase in alcohol use and speeding and a decrease in seatbelt use. Teens with ADHD are also more likely to have substance use disorders.
The good news is that there are treatment options for teens with ADHD. It’s essential to get treatment for teens so they can focus on their schoolwork, enjoy an active social life, and avoid risky behaviors that could seriously injure or kill them and others.
Instead of trying to navigate different treatment options alone, parents should partner with a professional to determine the best treatment for their teen. ADHD treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution; it might take time to determine each individual’s best course of action.
Several medications on the market can help teens with ADHD manage their symptoms. Stimulant medications are often prescribed to help teens feel more alert, which can help them concentrate and focus better at school.
Some examples of stimulants for ADHD are
There are also non-stimulant medications that can help teens with ADHD without potentially causing unwanted side effects, such as insomnia, irritability, and anxiety. In addition, teens are less likely to abuse non-stimulant medications, which can make them more appealing to teens with a history of substance abuse.
Parents should talk with their child’s doctor about all the options for medication.
Medication alone often isn’t enough for teens with ADHD, especially those prone to risky behavior.
Behavior therapy can help teens in several ways. First, it can give teens someone to talk to about their feelings. In addition to talking, treatment for ADHD often involves exercises to help teens learn essential skills, such as listening, focusing, and having a conversation.
Behavior therapy can help teens feel more confident by giving them a safe space to discuss their feelings and practice skills that will help them perform better in school and social situations.
Part of behavior therapy often includes learning stress management techniques. Teens have enough to be stressed about. Adding ADHD into the mix can make the world feel overwhelming.
So, learning stress management techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, or visualization can help teens cope with stress in healthy ways that don’t lead to outbursts or other disciplinary problems.
Parents don’t want their children to struggle at home, school, or social settings. That’s why many turn to ADHD treatment programs that can offer solutions for teens with ADHD. Treating ADHD is essential for healthy growth and development. At Enhance Health Group, we develop a treatment plan that helps families manage ADHD.
Contact us to learn more about the adolescent ADHD treatment program at Enhance Health Group. Let’s work together to help your teen get back to feeling like themselves. Enhance offers outpatient treatment and virtual treatment for adolescents with ADHD.