Types of ADHD
There are three major subtypes of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder:
- Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive type: the symptoms of this subtype primarily manifest with hyperactivity and/or impulsive symptoms. There are very few or no inattentive symptoms. This subtype is considered the most rare.
- Predominantly Inattentive type: this subtype presents with inattentive symptoms. Here there are few or no hyperactive symptoms.
- Combination ADHD: this subtype involves symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity.
Causes of ADHD
The cause(s) of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are not fully understood. This applies to all three types of ADHD. Also, unfortunately, there has not yet been a test identified to screen for, or assess the risk of developing ADHD. That being said, research does indicate a neurobiological basis for ADHD, and scientists believe a combination of genes and environment can contribute to one’s possibility of developing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
A teen with symptoms of inattention may:
- have difficulty paying attention to a task for more than a few minutes
- appear to have trouble listening when spoken to
- lose things often
- be easily distracted
- be forgetful
Hyperactive Impulsive ADHD
A teen with symptoms of hyperactivity may:
- fidget often
- have trouble staying seated
- struggle with occupying themselves quietly
- talk a lot
Another very common issue for teens who struggle with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (regardless of the type) is problems with executive functioning. Executive functioning assists individuals in thinking about goals and consequences of actions. Executive functioning also plays a crucial role in planning and evaluating progress.
Treatment for ADHD
Although there is no cure for ADHD, with appropriate treatment, your teen’s attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can be well managed. Thankfully, this applies to all three types of ADHD. Treatment options include:
- Behavior therapy – this is often for both the parents and the child with ADHD.
- Medication – if behavior therapy alone is not effective in managing your child’s symptoms, medication may be suggested. Depending on the type of ADHD, either stimulant or non-stimulant medication may be prescribed.
Co-occurring disorders in teens
Many teenagers who are diagnosed with ADHD also struggle with another condition. In fact, some studies show up to 60% of adolescents and teens with ADHD have at least one other diagnosis. Some of the most common co-occurring disorders in teens with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are:
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) – oppositional defiant disorder affects teens by making it difficult to follow rules and having an increased tendency to lose temper and argue with others.
- Conduct disorder (CD) – conduct disorder is a much more severe version of ODD. While difficulty following the rules is a part of CD, individuals who struggle with it often engage in illegal and/or dangerous behaviors (i.e. – fighting, stealing, trespassing).
- Mood disorders – although teens with ADHD can also struggle with a wide range of mood disorders, major depressive disorder is the most common. This means not only dealing with the difficult ADHD symptoms, but also experiencing sadness, irritability, loss of interest in activities, etc.
- Anxiety disorders – research indicates up to 40% of individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may also have an anxiety disorder. There are a range of anxiety disorders, yet in general, they all involve excessive worry, difficulty stopping worrying, and associated uncomfortable physical symptoms.
- Substance and/or alcohol dependence – as a parent of a teenager, you have likely already wondered if your teen uses substances or alcohol. Yet if your teen has been diagnosed with ADHD, this may be more of a concern, as the risk for substance/alcohol use ranges anywhere from 10-25%.
Your teen’s life with ADHD
Although you may logically understand the symptoms of ADHD in your teen, it is important to appreciate how he or she is truly affected on a day-to-day basis.
If your teenager is in high school, then his or her academic life is probably already pretty stressful. Add an ADHD diagnosis into the mix, and things can feel overwhelming. Because of the increased workload and level of difficulty of assignments, your teen may be feeling a lot of pressure to perform. Teens with ADHD can benefit from extra help around study skills, note taking, time management, and organization. There is also the possibility of special accommodations to help assist your child in reaching his or her academic potential.
As a teen, it is natural to have conflict with parents or caregivers. Yet if your teen has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder chances are the conflicts are more frequent. Teenagers with ADHD often find it hard to complete tasks (homework, chores, etc.) or follow rules (due to inattention), which can often be a point of contention between parents and kids.
Socialization is a major part of development during the adolescent and teen years. But because relationships can be difficult to navigate at times, emotions can run high. Your teen with ADHD may be particularly emotionally sensitive regarding friends and romantic relationships, or struggle to form relationships in the first place.
Clearly, ADHD can be a tough diagnosis to navigate for both you and your teenage child. To find out more about support and treatment options, contact the experts at Polaris at 1-844-836-0222.