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What Is Attention Deficit Disorder And Ways To Get Help

Understand what attention deficit disorder is, so you, or someone you know can seek the support needed

Mental health challenges can show up in lots of different ways among young people. For example, certain situations can make someone feel anxious, while others might feel stress. You are unique and so are your experiences, and it’s important to understand and respect that.

However, there are certain patterns that can be similar from person to person. Knowing these can help you to understand what you might be going through which may lead to better, more focused help.

We dive into some mental health challenges, such as Attention Deficit Disorder.

What Is Attention Deficit Disorder?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (also called ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children (American Psychiatric Association). While it can be diagnosed at any age, ADHD starts in childhood. In the US, there are currently 5.5 million people with ADHD (Our World in Data).

ADHD is a chronic and debilitating disorder and affects the individual in many areas of their life, like education, work, relationships with others and daily functioning. In children it can lead to poor self-esteem and social function if it’s not treated.

In teens symptoms vary by gender, type of ADHD, the environment they are in, and if they have any other disorders. Without help, teens with ADHD tend to have lower grades and higher rates of challenges at school and may struggle with friendships or managing emotions.

Symptoms Of ADHD In Young People

Warning signs and symptoms include:

  • Lack of focus or being easily distracted at school, work or home.
  • Being disorganized such as misplacing things or poor time management.
  • Self-focused behavior like having a hard time waiting for others.
  • Fidgeting like finding it difficult to sit still.
  • Heightened emotionality. Being a teen is an emotional rollercoaster and having ADHD can make managing emotions a lot harder.
  • Fear of rejection.
  • Daydreaming for long periods of time.
  • Impulsivity which could lead to risky decisions.
  • Finding it hard to follow a conversation, like appearing not to listen, talking too much or interrupting others.
  • Procrastinating. This shows us in things that take a long time.
  • Trouble working quietly.
  • Trouble reading social cues, making it hard to make or keep friends.
  • Trouble compromising with others.

More boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and symptoms can differ. Girls may lean toward less noticeable inattentive symptoms than to obvious hyperactive symptoms, therefore ADHD is sometimes overlooked in girls.

What To Do If You Are Worried If You Have ADHD

You can’t diagnose ADHD on your own. A trained health professional will evaluate specific symptoms. It’s important to note that other conditions can mimic ADHD such as learning disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, substance use, and head injuries. So it’s important to seek specialist help.

If you are worried about whether you have ADHD, it’s important to know that effective treatments are available to manage the symptoms. Treatment varies between people, but in most cases, medicine is paired with behavior therapy.

Do not be afraid to seek help, it will help you find better ways to cope with your emotions and improve your wellbeing.

If you don’t know where to start, we’ve gathered some trusted, free, 24/7 national text and helplines:

Or if you’re looking for mental health services and treatment programs in your specific state, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator online tool.

Additional Resources And Support On ADHD

National Institute of Mental Health’s resource on ‘Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Teens: What You Need to Know,’ as well as a download in Spanish.

CHADD’s resource on ‘Parenting Teens with ADHD.’

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has comprehensive information on ADHD, including on treatment, state information, and materials and multimedia such as infographics, videos and podcasts.

Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.