ADHD is not only a childhood condition. Researchers say roughly 60 percent of people diagnosed with ADHD in childhood will continue experiencing symptoms into adulthood.
That means along with all the other changes adolescence brings, you might also notice some changes in how your ADHD presents. Here are some examples of how ADHD may affect you during your teen years:
Changes in hyperactivity
Many people’s symptoms improve during adolescence. Which symptoms continue and which ones abate can vary from person to person.
One of the hallmarks of childhood ADHD is high energy and an inability to sit still. The amount of physical movement might change for some teens with ADHD. For example, hyperactivity may morph into general restlessness, but inattention and Impulsivity may persist.
Academic ups and downs
In late middle school and high school, academic demands increase at the same time as parents and teachers begin expecting students to show more self-discipline and independence. A variety of circumstances can lead to academic challenges:
- The practicalities of high school — changing classrooms, having different teachers, and using lockers — can make it harder to stay organized.
- An increasing number of complex or long-term academic projects can tax your time management skills.
- Collaborating with other students can be a challenge if socializing is difficult for you.
- Fewer parental and educational supports coupled with more independence and autonomy could lead to a drop in academic performance.
For some people with ADHD, social conflicts can intensify or increase during this period. Social conflict isn’t uncommon among teens, but ADHD may present added challenges.
Studies show that some people with ADHD may have a harder time socializing than others. Engaging in extracurricular activities and having parents who are involved, attentive, and positive can help make socializing easier for people with ADHD.
Research also shows that conflicts between children and parents or guardians, along with conflicts in romantic relationships, might arise. There may be a tendency among some parents of adolescents with ADHD to become overly protective — possibly even controlling. Attentive and caring parenting styles usually feel more supportive.
While social conflicts in friendships, families, and dating relationships aren’t uncommon in teen years, they may be more of an issue if you have ADHD.
Mood and self-esteem differences
ADHD symptoms may make normal fluctuations in mood and self-esteem more extreme. Some people with ADHD feel particularly irritable during their teen years. Studies show that more authoritarian and less egalitarian parenting styles may make Irritability worse.
If you are having trouble in school or in important relationships, you might also be feeling more stress or Anxiety than you are used to feeling.
Research shows that, for some teens with ADHD, anger can trigger substance use. Stress, Poor sleep habits, emerging mood disorders, and substance use can make it harder to pinpoint what’s causing changes to mood and self-esteem.