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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens Facts

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavior disorder that is characterized by hyperactivity or restlessness, impulsivity, and/or distractibility that interfere with the person's life in some way.
  • ADHD is common, affecting millions of teens.
  • While there is no single cause of ADHD, there are many factors that increase the risk of developing the disorder.
  • Symptoms of ADHD in teens tend to be somewhat different compared to the disorder in younger children or in adults.
  • There can be some differences between teenage boys and girls in their symptoms of ADHD.
  • If a medical or mental-health professional suspects that a teen has ADHD, he or she will likely undergo an extensive medical interview and physical examination.
  • Treatment of ADHD usually involves some combination of organizational and/or educational changes, psychotherapy, and/or medication.
  • It is important for the ADHD teen and his or her family to work closely with the prescribing doctor to decide whether treatment with medications is an appropriate intervention. Monitoring for effectiveness and potential side effects of medications is also essential.
  • There are many possible complications associated with ADHD, particularly if it remains untreated.
  • ADHD usually requires treatment for it to be adequately managed.
  • There are many support groups for people who suffer from ADHD.

What Are the Types of ADHD in Teens?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder that involves abnormal thought processing. The symptoms of this disorder have been described in the known medical literature for at least the past 200 years. It is characterized by problems focusing, sitting still, and/or controlling impulses. It can have a significantly negative impact on the sufferer's ability to make and keep friends and other relationships and do well in high school, at work, and/or the community in general. Low self-esteem is a common side effect of the behaviors displayed by a teen with ADHD.

Types of ADHD in Teens

ADHD is understood as either one of three types: the primarily inattentive type, the primarily impulsive/hyperactive type, and the combined type. The primarily inattentive type is characterized by the person having great difficulty listening, focusing, organizing his or herself, and completing tasks. A teen with the inattentive version of ADHD generally does not have a significant problem managing their impulses or activity level. The primarily impulsive/hyperactive type of ADHD tends to result in the opposite set of symptoms compared to the inattentive type. Such a patient will have significant attention problems since he/she has great trouble sitting still, waiting their turn to talk, and managing their impulses. The individual who has the combined type of ADHD struggles with some aspects of inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/11/2017
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens:

ADHD in Teens - Treatment

What treatment have you tried for your teen's ADHD?

ADHD in Teens - Symptoms and Signs

What are your teen's ADHD signs and symptoms?

There are a few tests and assessments that health care professionals use to diagnose ADHD.

ADHD Tests

There are a number of assessments that are completed by physicians, parents, and teachers. No single scale or source should be used to make the diagnosis of ADHD. It requires information from multiple sources. These include the following:

  • The Vanderbilt Assessment Scale is a tool which reviews symptoms associated with ADHD and other psychiatric diagnoses. This is generally completed by a teacher and a parent. This is primarily used for children in elementary school.
  • Conners Scale is a symptom rating tool that can be used for children aged 2-18 years and is completed by teachers, parents, and even self-administered by adolescents.
  • The child behavior checklist is also called the Achenbach Checklist and is completed by parents, teachers, and the child and is a subjective evaluation of behaviors consistent with ADHD.


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