If you are a teenager struggling with hyperactivity, mood difficulties, behavioral issues, or sleep problems, you may have ADHD. (This is not a diagnosis, please see a doctor if you are interested in a diagnosis of any medical condition.)
ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a disorder of the brain. According to the CDC, over 3.3 million people between 12 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, and the average age of diagnosis is seven years old. This article will dive into the symptoms, treatment, and outlook for teens with ADHD.
What is ADHD?
The primary difficulty for people with ADHD is an inability to control their impulses. Teens with ADHD are also more likely to have other mental health issues like anxiety, depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Oppositional Defiant Disorder(ODD). Although, not everyone with ADHD has these other conditions.
What Causes ADHD?
Nobody knows exactly what causes ADHD, but there may be a genetic connection. For example, If you have a sibling with any mental health condition, you are about twice as likely to have ADHD. Other common risk actors for ADHD include:
- Being born prematurely or with low birth weight,
- Experiencing a brain injury early in life,
- Having a mother who drank alcohol or smoked while they were pregnant,
- Having a mother that had exposure to environmental chemicals or toxins during pregnancy,
- Experiencing early-childhood trauma. (The research on this is not definitive.)
Common Symptoms of ADHD
For many people, ADHD symptoms improve as teenagers, although some may worsendue to environmental and hormonal changes. Research says that about 60 percent of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms as teenagers and adults.
How Can ADHD be Treated?
In many cases, ADHD can be treated with the following approaches:
Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Many diet and lifestyle changes can help with, but not eliminate, ADHD symptoms for many people. Some of these changes include:
- Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber,
- Getting adequate vitamin and omega-3 intake,
- Replacing sugary beverages with water,
- Aiming for one hour of moderate exercise daily,
- Limiting social media usage,
- Getting enough quality sleep. (Check out this article on strategies to achieve quality sleep.)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Exercise is not just healthy for your body. It can also help keep the brain in better shape. Physical activity is associated with improved cognitive function and improvedADHD symptoms.
During and for a short time after exercise, your brain releases chemicals like dopamine, which help with attention and clear thinking. The stimulant medicines often used to treat ADHD increase dopamine in the brain, so it makes sense that exercise can have many of the same effects as powerful and effective medications.
Stimulant medication combined with cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common treatment approach to treating ADHD. Some medications commonly used include Amphetamine (Adderall), Dextroamphetamine, and Methylphenidate (Ritalinand Concerta).
The Bright Side
Although having ADHD comes with plenty of challenges, it can also open up many opportunities. Many people experience severe ADHD symptoms. If this applies to you, your teachers and administrators will be more aware of your behavior in class. This enables you to receive a diagnosis and treatment faster than you otherwise could.
What’s The Outlook for a Teen With ADHD?
Early intervention is vital for lasting improvement in symptoms for people with ADHD. Research has shown that when ADHD is left untreated later in life, people’s chances for substance abuse, poor financial status, and deteriorating mental health increase.
Many people with ADHD as kids have at least one symptom that continues into their teenage and adult life. Fortunately, ADHD is a manageable condition.
There are many challenges for teens with ADHD, but if you have the proper support, you can make it through life happily as a teen and an adult. As you get older and mature, it is vital to keep the symptoms and treatments of ADHD in mind, ensuring you stay healthy and live the life you truly want.