Signs & Symptoms of ADHD in Adolescents

Understanding ADHD

Learn about ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder characterized by inattention and/or hyperactivity that impedes everyday life and activities. ADHD is generally broken up into two parts: inattention, and hyperactivity and/or impulsivity. Those with ADHD might have difficulty taking note of details, paying attention to people or tasks at hand, following instructions, and keeping track of things. They might also be easily distracted and can sometimes feel “overstimulated,” which can result in their forgetting to do things often or struggling to keep track of various tasks or objects. ADHD is a disorder of distraction, and the symptoms of ADHD can severely interfere with everyday life, as they affect areas of both work and play. 

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ADHD

Certain signs and symptoms accompany ADHD. As mentioned above, ADHD symptoms can be broken up into two camps: inattention, and hyperactivity and/or impulsivity. Both sets of symptoms often blend into one another, and at times they may be hard to distinguish. Either way, it’s important to pay attention to the way your child interacts with the world — at school, at work, and even with friends. Their behavior is often an indicator of their internal world. The following are some of the behavioral symptoms of ADHD:

Behavioral symptoms of inattention:

  • Evades difficult tasks
  • Avoids tasks that require a lengthy amount of attention
  • Frequently forgets and/or loses items (keys, wallet, cellphone, etc.)
  • Can’t keep their attention on school, work, or extracurricular activities
  • Doesn’t appear to listen when spoken to
  • Makes frequent mistakes in school or at work
  • Misses details regarding tasks
  • Does not follow instructions easily
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is overly forgetful in everyday chores and activities
  • Has frequent mood swings

Behavioral symptoms of hyperactivity:

  • Talks excessively
  • Frequently fidgets (e.g., taps foot, squirms in seat, cracks knuckles, or plays with things in hands)
  • Often leaves seat and/or walks around when expected to remain seated
  • Frequently rushes from one activity to the next
  • Has difficulty resting or staying still
  • Is unable to do tasks or fun activities quietly
  • Has difficulty waiting their turn
  • Blurts out answers before directly asked or addressed
  • Often interrupts others
  • Acts restless, impatient, and/or twitchy
  • Often acts on their impulses
  • Has a temper


Effects of ADHD

Short-Term Effects

The symptoms of untreated ADHD may not only make it hard for your child to complete everyday tasks, but they may also reduce your child’s quality of life because certain short-term effects may occur when ADHD is left untreated. However, the fact that these effects are called “short-term” does not minimize their severity or importance. If you believe that your child exhibits any of the following short-term effects of ADHD, please consider professional treatment:

  • Decline in grades
  • Problems with relationships
  • Social rejection
  • Poor performance in school or at work
  • Failure to fulfill basic self-care tasks (e.g., bathing, grooming, etc.)
  • Inability to complete chores (e.g., doing laundry, washing dishes, going grocery shopping)
  • Self-harm

Long-Term Effects

The sooner your child gets treatment for ADHD, the more minimal the negative effects can be. But if further left untreated, those with ADHD may suffer from more long-term, or chronic, effects. The longer you forego treatment, the greater the risk for long-term effects. The long-term effects of untreated ADHD include the following:

  • Academic failure
  • Isolation/alienation from friends and/or family
  • Chronic inability to get anything done
  • Failure to get along with others
  • Frequent traffic violations
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Self-harm

Co-Occurring Disorders

ADHD and co-occurring disorders

It is not uncommon for someone with ADHD to also experience a co-occurring disorder, or another mental health disorder at the same time. Depending upon the type of disorder, a co-occurring disorder can have a more complicated impact on an individual with ADHD. Some common co-occurring disorders of ADHD include the following:

  • Tic disorders
  • Intermittent explosive disorder (IED)
  • Personality disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Substance use disorder (addiction)
  • Autism spectrum disorder

ADHD can be a frustrating and life-altering mental health disorder. But through inpatient treatment at Southstone Behavioral Health in South Boston, Virginia, managing your child’s ADHD is possible. The compassionate and competent staff at Southstone Behavioral Health can help your child learn to control their impulses and narrow their focus on everyday tasks and demands. When your child receives care at Southstone Behavioral Health, they can gain the necessary tools to cope with life’s many distractions.