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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD in Teenagers

March 12, 2017

An overview of ADHD in teenagers

ADHD is a behavior disorder that affects about 10% of school-aged children and teenagers. ADHD in teenagers is most commonly diagnosed during childhood years, with the disorder continuing into the teenage years. Many teenagers with ADHD however, are diagnosed during their early teen years as school becomes more demanding. In contrast to previous research, new studies have shown that most children with ADHD do not outgrow the disorder when they reach their teens.

ADHD may coexist with other conditions and disorders, including learning disabilities and developmental disorders.

Diagnosis of ADHD in teenagers

Teens with ADHD who were not previously diagnosed may struggle with high school demands and feelings while experiencing the same problems as those without ADHD including issues relating to self-esteem, physical development, hormonal changes, self-identity, peers, and schoolwork and being part of a group.

In many cases, however, teens with ADHD react negatively to such demands and feelings in manners different to their non-ADHD peers.

Some facts about ADHD in teenagers

  • Research has shown that teens with ADHD face more conflict with family members than teens without ADHD, particularly with their mothers.
  • It is more difficult to obtain a diagnosis of ADHD in a teenager than in a child because of a number of reasons:
    • many symptoms required for diagnosis are appropriate for children rather than for teens or young adults;
    • reliable reports from parents, teachers and other observers are more difficult as symptoms and behaviors vary among teens with ADHD and those without ADHD; and
    • the presence of other learning or development disorders may mask or complicate the diagnosis of ADHD.
  • Teens with ADHD may feel isolated particularly if they are always impulsive and do things that irritate or annoy others as a result of that impulsiveness. The result is that teens with ADHD may be more likely to associate with peers who are maladaptive or maybe socially rejected.
  • Teens with ADHD may try to become the class clown to gain popularity.
  • They can be perfectionists and may focus on a topic of interest to the extent that others become wary of the topic.
  • Teens with ADHD are more likely to:
    • be aggressive, impulsive and not think about the consequences of their actions
    • experiment with drugs and alcohol
    • have an accident while driving
  • Teens with ADHD may have difficulties organizing themselves for exams, studies, class timetables, homework, and academic assignments.