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Symptons of ADD among Teens

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Teenage ADD Symptoms

Signs of a troubled teen

  • Your child becomes more secretive, and it seems like more than a desire for greater privacy
  • Your teen has regular, sudden outbursts of anger that are clearly unreasonable and out of proportion to whatever has caused the anger
  • Your teen regularly misses curfew, does not show up when expected, and lies about his or her whereabouts (is not where you expected them to be if you check up on them)
  • Your teenager has suddenly changed his or her peer group and hasn't made an effort to let you meet these new friends. The new group has led to a distinct change in appearance (clothing, jewelry) and change in attitude (more sullen, defiant, hostile).
  • Your adolescent has stolen money from your purse on regular occasions.
  • Your adolescent has extreme mood swings, from depression to elation, and seems to sleep a lot more than usual at times.
  • Your child's grades have suddenly dropped and the child has lost interest in the usual activities.


According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as many as 5% of children may have ADHD. Children and adolescents with attention deficit disorder, ADD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, typically exhibit behaviors such as a poor or short attention span, impulsive behaviors, hyperactivity or disruptive behavior, and difficulty focusing on a task through completion. Parents often feel frustrated, believing the child is just "lazy" or "stubborn" rather than suffering from a behavioral issue. If your child continues to perform below his or her abilities in school, if the teacher complains that your child cannot or will not pay attention and is disruptive in class, and if your child has a tendency to do things "without thinking", he or she may have ADHD. Children with ADD or ADHD also often have a low frustration level and can become irritable or belligerent when pressed to complete a task.

Sometimes it is hard for a parent to recognize the difference between an active, high-energy child and one who has ADD or ADHD. When these "high energy" behaviors begin to interfer with your child's academic and social skills that is when it is time to seek professional advice. One risk of late diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is that a child can fall behind in academics, which leads to a decline in healthy levels of self-esteem. Teenagers who have not been properly diagnosed may be more prone to high-risk behaviors (impulsiveness) such as fast, risky driving and drug experimentation. Some pre-adolescent and adolescent children may even self-medicate with alcohol, marijuana, or other mood-altering substances. They may not be consciously aware of it, but what they are doing is making them seemingly feel better, or more "normal." Some adolescents might even say, "It takes the edge off." ADD and ADHD are seen more often in boys than girls, and the disorder often runs in families. A parent might feel particularly frustrated with an ADD child because he or she "sees" himself or herself in the child and doesn't want them to experience the same problems and struggles the parent experienced as a child. Self-destructive behaviors can develop into serious problems if ADD and ADHD are left untreated. Teenagers who have long suffered from ADD or ADHD without intervention generally perform below ability in school, have more negative interactions with authority figures or law enforcement, are more likely to drop out of school, are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to become injured in accidents due to risk-taking behaviors.

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