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ADHD in Children Health Center

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How to Recognize ADHD Symptoms at Every Age

ADHD in Adolescents

In the teen years, hyperactivity tends to improve. But your child may feel restless and be uncomfortable sitting for long periods.

At this stage, Barkley notes, "other problems -- with time, motivation, organization -- these are going to become the costliest symptoms for them."

A teen with ADHD may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork but may do well with video games, which offer immediate rewards.

All teens can be emotional, but one with ADHD may have more trouble keeping his emotions in check.

Because of the tendency to be impulsive, a teen with ADHD might do risky things, including use alcohol and drugs, lie, steal, and have unprotected sex. Safety in the car may also be a problem. "This is one of the worst disorders you can have while operating a motor vehicle," Barkley says.

ADHD in Adults

The hyperactivity that comes with ADHD fades further with age. But other symptoms continue to create problems in many areas of life.

An adult with ADHD may:

  • Be messy and disorganized
  • Have trouble paying attention
  • Struggle to finish tasks
  • Lose his keys, wallet, sunglasses, or cell phone often
  • Take shortcuts, behind the wheel and at work
  • Have risky sex
  • Abuse drugs and alcohol
  • Quit jobs on impulse
  • Max out credit cards
  • Eat unhealthy foods

He may also tend to have relationship problems. "Their divorce rate is very high," Barkley says.

Still, if you get a diagnosis as an adult, it may give you a new understanding of problems you have struggled with since childhood. Treatment can help you with your symptoms, so stick with it. If you find it's no longer working, talk to your doctor about making adjustments.

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Reviewed on May 12, 2015

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