What Should I Know About My Child Participating In Clinical Research
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so others may receive better help in the future.
Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. Clinical trials for children are designed with the understanding that children and adults respond differently, both physically and mentally, to medications and treatments. Talk to your health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for your child. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.
How Can I Find Help For My Child
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, an online tool for finding mental health services and treatment programs in your state. For additional resources, visit NIMH’s Help For Mental Illnesses webpage or see NIMH Children and Mental Health fact sheet.
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK . You also can text the Crisis Text Line or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
Adhd Symptoms In Girls
Though the number of boys and girls with ADHD is estimated to be roughly equal, girls are often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. There are a number of reasons for this, including a later onset in girls, and a slight difference in observed behaviors.
Girls more routinely present the inattentive subtype for ADHD, rather than the hyperactive or combined presentations.
More key differences for girls with ADHD:
Symptoms become more challenging in adolescence
A higher comorbidity of anxiety and depression
A lower rate of aggressive or impulsive behaviors
With the exception of higher rates of verbal aggression toward other children
If your daughters schoolwork, friendships, and moods seem to be negatively impacted, keep a close eye for the symptoms of ADHD.
Symptoms are more subtle, but the disorder is just as common in girls as it is with boys.
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Does Adhd Raise The Risk Of Car Accidents And Problem Drinking
Yes. Driving poses special risks for teens with ADHD. Teens with ADHD are two to four times more likely to have a car accident than teens without ADHD.
Teens with ADHD may be impulsive, risk-taking, immature in judgment, and thrill seeking. All of these traits make accidents and serious injury more likely.
Still, studies show that teen drivers with ADHD who take their medication are less likely to have accidents.
Teens with ADHD are more likely to be heavy drinkers than teens without ADHD. They are also more likely to have problems from drinking.
In studies, teens with ADHD were twice as likely as other teens to have abused alcohol within the past 6 months and three times as likely to abuse drugs other than .
Getting the right treatment for ADHD may help lower the risk of later alcohol and drug abuse.
Discuss driving privileges with your teen in relation to their overall ADHD treatment plan. Itâs your responsibility to establish rules and expectations for safe driving behaviors. Be sure to include a discussion about the risks of texting and talking on the phone while driving.
Risks Specific To Teen Girls With Adhd: Pregnancy Stds And Depression
Because girls with ADHD may appear less symptomatic and internalize their problems, they often suffer silently. In the early teen years, girls with ADHD have more academic problems, more aggressive behavior, higher rates of depression, and earlier signs of substance-related problems than do their neurotypical peers. Some studies suggest that girls with ADHD may be at greater risk for self-harm, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, and unplanned pregnancy than are girls without the disorder. These findings hold true even after adjusting for factors such as stimulant medication use, IQ, and age at diagnosis.11
The hormones that lead to rebellion and risky behavior in neurotypical teenagers can have profound effects on girls with ADHD, who typically start puberty between the ages 9 and 11, and begin menstruating between the ages of 11 and 14. Hormonal changes can affect how ADHD medication is metabolized medication and dosing schedules may need frequent adjustment in the teen years.
By the age of 20, about 75 percent of American teens have had sexual intercourse. That number is likely higher for teens with ADHD numerous studies have linked ADHD to a higher rate of teen pregnancy, promiscuity, and sexually transmitted infections .
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Diagnosing Adhd: What Professionals Look At
Children might be diagnosed with one of three types of ADHD, depending on symptoms:
- ADHD combined type: children with this type have both hyperactive/impulsive and inattentive symptoms. They tend to have trouble concentrating, are fidgety or restless and are always on the go. They often act without thinking.
- ADHD inattentive type: children with this type mainly have inattentive symptoms. They tend to have trouble concentrating, remembering instructions, paying attention and finishing tasks.
- ADHD hyperactive/impulsive type: children with this type mainly have hyperactive and impulsive symptoms. Theyre always on the go, have trouble slowing down and often act without thinking.
When health professionals are working out whether a child has ADHD, they use guidelines to carefully check the childs symptoms. Theyll look at things like the following:
- Age: the childs symptoms must begin before the age of 12 years. Children are usually at least five years old before ADHD is diagnosed because there might be many other reasons for difficult behaviour in younger children.
- Number of symptoms: the particular ADHD diagnosis depends on how many inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms a child has.
- Duration of symptoms: the child must have had symptoms for at least six months.
- Severity of symptoms: a childs symptoms must be worse than in other children of the same age and happen most of the time. Also, the symptoms must interfere with the childs life both at home and at school.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder In Teens Facts
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a behavior disorder that is characterized by hyperactivity or restlessness, impulsivity, and/or distractibility that interfere with the person’s life in some way.
- ADHD is common, affecting millions of teens.
- While there is no single cause of ADHD, there are many factors that increase the risk of developing the disorder.
- Symptoms of ADHD in teens tend to be somewhat different compared to the disorder in younger children or in adults.
- There can be some differences between teenage boys and girls in their symptoms of ADHD.
- If a medical or mental-health professional suspects that a teen has ADHD, he or she will likely undergo an extensive medical interview and physical examination.
- Treatment of ADHD usually involves some combination of organizational and/or educational changes, psychotherapy, and/or medication.
- It is important for the ADHD teen and his or her family to work closely with the prescribing doctor to decide whether treatment with medications is an appropriate intervention. Monitoring for effectiveness and potential side effects of medications is also essential.
- There are many possible complications associated with ADHD, particularly if it remains untreated.
- ADHD usually requires treatment for it to be adequately managed.
- There are many support groups for people who suffer from ADHD.
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Symptoms And Diagnosis Of Adhd
If you are concerned about whether a child might have ADHD, the first step is to talk with a healthcare provider to find out if the symptoms fit the diagnosis. The diagnosis can be made by a mental health professional, like a psychologist or psychiatrist, or by a primary care provider, like a pediatrician.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthcare providers ask parents, teachers, and other adults who care for the child about the childs behavior in different settings, like at home, school, or with peers. Read more about the recommendations.
The healthcare provider should also determine whether the child has another condition that can either explain the symptoms better, or that occurs at the same time as ADHD. Read more about other concerns and conditions.
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Treatment For Adhd In Teens
When working with an ADHD diagnosis, remember that one size does not fit all. Comprehensive treatment of a teen with ADHD will generally include both medication and talk therapy, with providers working together to strive for the best outcome for a teen and their family. It is often best to first explore what type of ADHD a teen has by understanding their behaviors, and finding appropriate medication to treat these symptoms.
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Adhd In Teens: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Another kind of psychotherapy used to treat ADHD is cognitive behavioral therapy . Behavior therapy seeks to help those with this condition identify and decrease the irrational thoughts and behaviors that reinforce maladaptive behaviors and can be administered either individually or in group therapy. CBT that seeks to help the ADHD sufferer decrease the tendency to pay excessive attention to potential threats has also been found to be helpful, particularly for teens who have anxiety or depression in addition to ADHD.
Kids With Adhd And Relationships
Not all children with ADHD have trouble getting along with others. If your child does, you can take steps to help improve their social skills and relationships. The earlier your child’s troubles with peers are addressed, the more successful such steps can be. It helps for you to:
- Recognize the importance of healthy peer relationships
- Involve your child in activities with their peers choosing an activity your child is particularly good at or enjoys will help them have the confidence to focus on engaging more with peers.
- Set up social behavior goals with your child and a reward program
- Encourage social interactions if your child is withdrawn or excessively shy
- Before your child goes to an event, talk about what they should expect there and what others might expect from them
- Donât try to do too much at once. Pick one or two habits to work on at a time.
- Don’t go overboard. Your child doesn’t need to be part of the most popular group at school or have lots of friends. One or two close friendships may be all they need.
- Ask your child’s teachers how class is going for them. Work with them and the guidance counselor to clear up any conflicts that could get in the way of friendships.
Kids with ADHD can be targets for bullying, too. Be prepared. Talk with your child about what to do if they get teased or picked on. Make sure they know it’s OK to tell you if they are bullied.
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What To Do When Things Escalate
Due to the many risk factors associated with adolescent ADHD, things are most likely to escalate if your teen is:
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Being bullied or ridiculed by peers
- Unable to function at school or in other areas of life due to his or her ADHD symptoms or a co-occurring disorder
- Going through a period of high stress
- Attempting to cope with a recent traumatic experience
- Suffering from an additional psychiatric disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or other serious mental health condition
- Frequently engaging in non-suicidal behavior, such as cutting or burning
- Actively suicidal
If things start to escalate and your teens safety or wellbeing is at risk, dont hesitate to reach out for help. You can:
- Contact your childs treatment provider asap
- Enlist the help of a close family member or friend for immediate support or assistance
- Take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room
Getting An Adhd Diagnosis
Itsimportant to diagnose and treat ADHD as early as possible. The earlier its diagnosed, the earlier you and your childs health professionals can work on a plan to manage your childs symptoms.
If youre concerned about your childs behaviour, your GP is a good place to start. Your GP might refer your child to a paediatrician, psychologist or psychiatrist, who can look at your childs symptoms and consider possible diagnoses.
The diagnosis process might include most, if not all, of the following:
- an interview with you and other primary carers of your child
- an interview with your child
- behaviour checklists that you and/or your childs carers and teachers fill out
- discussions with your childs teachers or carers.
Your child might also have other tests, including:
- developmental, learning, educational or IQ checks
- language, speech and movement checks
- general health checks
- vision and hearing tests.
Sometimes ADHD isnt diagnosed until later childhood or the teenage years. This is when children have more schoolwork and go through social and emotional changes. Symptoms that you hadnt noticed before might become more obvious because of these challenges and changes.
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How Common Are Adhd Symptoms In Teens
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 9.4 percent of U.S. children between the ages of 2 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, making it one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental conditions today. Experts say that 80 to 85 percent of preteens continue to experience symptoms into their adolescent years, and 60 percent of children with ADHD become adults with ADHD. The impact of ADHD symptoms may increase or decrease over time depending on the individuals brain development and the specific challenges faced in school or at work.
Hyperfocusing On The Same Task For Hours
If you have ADHD, starting tasks can be a grind especially tasks you find daunting or believe will be time-consuming but once you get started, you might find yourself so absorbed by what youre doing that other important tasks end up neglected as a result.
Hyperfocus is a symptom that can easily be missed because it looks like the person is only motivated to do certain activities, OShea said. Its sometimes mistaken as selfishness and overzealousness.
Difficulty switching gears is thought to be caused by low dopamine levels in the brain: The more engrossed you are in a task, the greater the dopamine boost. Its similar to being in the zone, only in this context, it feels like youre trapped there.
Hyperfocus at its worst can look like writing and rewriting your response to a simple email and being unable to transition to a new task or missing an important event because youre unable to pull yourself away from a work project, Louk said.
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How Is Adhd In Teens Diagnosed
As ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, certain symptoms in teens may be misdiagnosed or attributed to other mental health conditions including depression or anxiety. It is important to keep in mind that, despite misdiagnoses, these symptoms are still attributed to a persons ADHD. Teens can reach out to a healthcare provider to complete a diagnostic assessment and achieve an accurate diagnosis.
The current criteria for diagnosing ADHD in teens includes:
- Symptoms must be present for at least six months
- Signs and symptoms are not developmentally appropriate for a persons age
- Symptoms that are present must occur in two or more settings
- Symptoms impact daily functioning
- Other mental health disorders with similar symptoms have been ruled out
- Some symptoms were present before age 12
For teens under the age of 16, criteria includes:
- At least six symptoms of inattention
- At least six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity
For teens over the age of 17, criteria includes:
- At least five symptoms of inattention
- At least five symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity
What Are Some Helpful Strategies
Here are some strategies that may be helpful for those with ADHD:
- Write things down, make lists, use reminders or alarms in cell phones.
- Create some schedules or routines that are the same every day.
- Repeat instructions or have your son repeat back what he heard.
- Dont try to do too much concentrating at once. Have your son take brief homework breaks every 20-30 minutes.
- Listen to a radio while doing homework, as it blocks out other external stimuli.
For further strategies, ask your sons health care provider for names of ADHD coaches.
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From Child To Teen: The Changing Clinical Picture
As children with ADHD progress to adolescence, the clinical characteristics of the condition typically change. Clinical features of ADHD in childhood include pronounced impulsivity, restlessness, excessive motor activity, inattention, and distractibility. Children with ADHD may be reckless, and accident-prone, often displaying antisocial behavior such as disobedience, temper tantrums, and aggression.9 During adolescence, some symptoms become less conspicuous. Hyperactivity levels may decline and attention span and impulse control may improve. Consequently, many adolescents originally diagnosed with the combined type of ADHD no longer meet the criteria for that type. Impulsivity remains a major problem for many teens, however, creating associated difficulties in school, work, family, and social relationships.2,3
Impairment of academic performance becomes more apparent in secondary school as academic demands increase. Emotional lability and behavioral outbursts, common during adolescence, can be more pronounced when ADHD is present. As many as 25% to 45% of teens with ADHD develop oppositional or antisocial behavior or conduct disorder.10
Signs Of Inattentive Adhd In Teenagers:
- Doesnt seem to be listening when spoken to
- Short attention spans when performing tasks, activities, and conversations
- Makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities
- Gets sidetracked or loses focus when doing homework or chores
- Doesnt follow through on instructions or fails to finish tasks or homework. Or completes it but doesnt turn it in.
- Has difficulty organizing tasks or belongings
- Avoids tasks or work that requires a prolonged period of mental effort such as schoolwork.
- Avoids doing tasks because theyre afraid to fail
- Often loses things like school supplies, clothing or money
- Is often forgetful and/or easily distracted
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