Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms & Effects

Learn how to recognize the signs, symptoms, and effects of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Resource Treatment Center provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric treatment for youth who are suffering from ADHD.

Understanding ADHD

Learn about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, more commonly referred to as ADHD, is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses in adolescents. ADHD is a mental disorder that is characterized by the presence of a combination of factors, including impulsivity, hyperactivity, or and persistent inattention, or by the presence of all three. Acting impulsively, feeling hyperactive, and having difficulty paying attention are things that everyone experiences throughout their lifetimes. People who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, however, are plagued by these symptoms at such an intensive manner that is causes significant disruption in their abilities to function appropriately on a daily basis. While the impact that ADHD has on a child’s life can be severe, there are many treatment options available.


ADHD statistics

Estimates show that anywhere between three and ten percent of school-aged adolescents meet criteria for a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Additionally, it is believed that approximately sixty percent of those adolescents will continue to experience symptoms well into adulthood. While the average age of onset of ADHD is believed to be seven years old, a diagnosis can be received at any age.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for ADHD

Despite continuing research, there has not been any one specific cause identified as being the sole contributor to the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Rather, it is believed by those in the mental health profession that it is a number of factors working together that lead to the onset of this illness. The following are explanations that have been provided regarding the development of ADHD:

Genetic: Heredity is believed to be one of the most common causes linked to the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Adolescents who have a first-degree relative who suffer from this disorder are said to be at a much higher risk of developing symptoms of ADHD themselves. That being said, there is not any one specific gene that has been identified as being the direct link.

Physical: The development of ADHD is said to be affected by an imbalance in the chemical composition in one’s brain. Because certain areas of the brain work together to regulate behaviors, when they become imbalanced, the way in which those behaviors would normally be regulated become disturbed, potentially resulting in the onset of symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Environmental: Some research has indicated that adolescents who are subjected to abuse and/or neglect can develop symptoms of ADHD. Additionally, being exposed to toxins like lead, nicotine, or alcohol prenatally can possibly play a role in the development of this disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of mental illness
  • Pre-existing mental illness
  • Being male (Males are said to be twice as likely as females to experience the onset of ADHD.)
  • Prolonged exposure to violence
  • Prenatal exposure to infections, viruses, or certain toxic substances
  • Substance abuse

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ADHD

The signs and symptoms that may be exhibited by a child or adolescent who is struggling with ADHD will vary depending on a number of different factors, including which deficit is most prominent. Examples of various symptoms that may be indicative of the presence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Ditching school
  • Inability to remain focused on any given task
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of impulse control
  • Excessive talking at inappropriate times
  • Rapid speech
  • Interrupts others
  • Temper tantrums
  • Fidgeting
  • Squirming
  • Bouts of extreme hyperactivity

Physical symptoms:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Chronic headaches
  • Frequent urination
  • Chronic stomachaches
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Muscle tension

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Racing thoughts
  • Extreme difficulty paying attention
  • Tendency to procrastinate
  • Forgetful
  • Early becomes bored
  • Disorganized thinking patterns
  • Disorganized speech

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of extreme inadequacy in comparison to one’s peers
  • Feeling as though one is incapable of reaching goals
  • Excessive feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Mood instability


Effects of ADHD

When adolescents do not receive therapeutic interventions to help treat their symptoms of ADHD, they are likely to suffer through a number of negative ramifications, including:

  • Decline or deterioration of academic performance
  • Suspension or expulsion from school
  • Social isolation
  • Becoming the victim of bullying
  • Experiencing increasing feelings of anxiety, depression, and worthlessness
  • Experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Co-Occurring Disorders

ADHD and co-occurring disorders

It is common for adolescents who have ADHD to experience symptoms of another mental illness as well. The most commonly cited disorders known to occur alongside attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder include:

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Other anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Tic disorder
  • Intermittent explosive disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Conduct disorder

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