Symptoms and Signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 7/25/2021

Doctor's Notes on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder characterized by hyperactivity or restlessness, impulsivity, and/or distractibility that interfere with the person's life in some way. ADHD is a common disorder that affects teens. 

The main symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in teens include 

  • inattention, 
  • hyperactivity, and 
  • impulsivity. 

Inattention symptoms can manifest as trouble paying close attention or making careless mistakes, not seeming to listen when directly spoken to, avoiding or failing to follow through on instructions or to finish tasks (including homework), difficulty organizing tasks and activities, avoiding or disliking tasks that require sustained attention, frequently losing things needed to perform tasks or activities, tendency to get distracted easily, and frequent forgetfulness or inattentiveness. 

Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity can manifest as a tendency to fidget, trouble staying seated when doing so is necessary or expected, trouble engaging in activities quietly, feeling restless or easily bored, talking excessively, often blurting out answers or interrupting others impulsively, and frequent trouble waiting for his or her turn during activities.

Treatment of ADHD in teens:

A combination of medications and behavior therapy is often used for treating ADHD in teens. Medications may be either stimulants or non-stimulants. Stimulant medications for ADHD may increase alertness and improve school performance, but they may be habit-forming. They can also lead to side effects such as insomnia or irritability.

There are also non-stimulant medications available that have different side effects. Non-stimulant medications for ADHD have different side effects from stimulant drugs. They also are not habit-forming and are less likely to be abused than stimulant drugs, which may make them a more appropriate option in people at risk for alcohol or drug misuse.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.