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ADHD in Teens (cont.)

How Do ADHD Symptoms Differ in Teen Boys and Girls?

Studies indicate that the symptoms of ADHD look different at times in teenage boys and girls. Specifically, girls tend to develop and be diagnosed with the disorder at later ages. Above preschool age, girls tend to exhibit inattention more often than impulsive and hyperactive symptoms and overall have more subtle symptoms. Girls also seem to be more at risk for also developing internalizing mental-health problems like depression, eating disorders, and suicidal behaviors compared to boys. Interestingly, boys of preschool age with ADHD tend to have less deviant, less severe symptoms compared to preschool girls with ADHD.

What Tests Do Doctors Use to Diagnose ADHD in Teens?

Many health-care professionals may help diagnose and treat individuals with ADHD: licensed mental-health therapists, pediatricians, family physicians, or other primary-care professionals, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, licensed counselors, and social workers. If one of these professionals suspects that a teen has ADHD, he or she will likely undergo an extensive medical interview and physical examination. As part of this examination, the teen may be asked a series of questions from a standardized questionnaire or self-test to help assess the risk of ADHD.

Symptoms of ADHD may be associated with a number of other medical or mental-health conditions or can be a side effect of various medications. For example, teens with ADHD, depression, or bipolar disorder may all suffer from significant irritability. Therefore, routine laboratory tests are often performed during the initial evaluation to rule out other causes of symptoms. Occasionally, an X-ray, scan, or other imaging study may be needed.

Well-recognized diagnostic criteria for ADHD are as follows:

  • Six or more symptoms of inattention that last for at least six months, is not adaptive, and not consistent with the sufferer's developmental level
  • Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity for at least six months, is not adaptive, inconsistent with the sufferer's developmental level, and not solely symptoms of oppositional disorder, defiance, irritability, or trouble understanding the task or associated instructions
  • Some of the above symptoms that caused problems occurred before 7 years of age
  • Several of the symptoms take place in at least two settings (for example, school, home, work, with friends, relatives, other activities)
  • Clear clinically significant problems in social, academic, or occupational functioning
  • ADHD symptoms do not only occur as part of schizophrenia, or other psychotic disorder, and are not better explained by another mental-health disorder.

ADHD in Teens Treatment

There are a variety of treatments available for managing ADHD during adolescence, including several effective treatment medications, educational or vocational interventions, nutritional interventions, as well as specific forms of psychotherapy.

Are There Home Remedies for ADHD in Teens (Dietary Modification)?

For individuals who may be wondering how to manage the symptoms of ADHD using treatment without prescribed medications, nutritional interventions are sometimes used. While treatment such as limiting exposure to food additives, preservatives, and processed sugars in the teen's diet have been found to be helpful for some people with some ADHD, the research data is still considered to be too limited for many physicians to recommend nutritional interventions. Also, placing such restrictions on the eating habits of a teenager can prove to be nearly impossible and set up a power struggle for the individual with ADHD and his or her parents and other caretakers. One natural remedy called phosphatidylserine (Vayarin) is being increasingly seen as a potentially effective treatment of ADHD. Vayarin is a prescription nutritional supplement that consists of omega-3 fatty acids and is thought to work by increasing what is thought to be a deficit in omega-3 fatty acids in the brains of many individuals with ADHD. There is some research that supports its use as an alternate to current standard therapy. However, a recent review of the literature did not fully support that finding.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017


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