How to Spot ADHD Symptoms in Teens (and Help them Cope)

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a child’s ability to stay focused, sit still, and/or control his or her impulses. It is a legitimate medical condition that requires special care and attention.

ADHD symptoms in teens usually manifest somewhat differently than they do in younger children or adults because of the distinctive aspects of this phase of life. Normal stressors such as rapidly changing bodies, hormonal changes, and the increased academic and social expectations of high school, tend to aggravate ADHD symptoms, making this an especially tough time for a teen with ADHD.

Teens with ADHD, for instance, tend to have lower grade point averages, complete and turn in a much lower percentage of classwork and homework assignments, and are much less likely to be working up to their potential. They are also more likely to be absent or tardy and to drop out of school.

The earlier you recognize the symptoms and get help for your teen, the better the outcome.

Types of ADHD.

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5-TR), there are three types of ADHD: primarily inattentive, primarily impulsive/hyperactive, and a combination of the two.

In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, a teen must exhibit six or more of the symptoms in a category (five if they are over the age of 17); the symptoms must have started before they were 12 years old; been present for six months or longer; and impact their functioning in at least two settings such as home, school, or social.

Primarily inattentive ADHD.

Teens with primarily inattentive ADHD struggle to pay attention, stay focused on what they are doing, be organized, and complete tasks, which can have a severely negative impact on their performance at school. On the other hand, they do not usually have a problem managing their impulses or activity level. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty understanding or following instructions.
  • Failure to pay attention to detail.
  • Making careless mistakes.
  • A wandering mind that seems far away when being spoken to.
  • Failure to follow through on instructions or finish assignments.
  • Inability to organize things.
  • Frequently losing or forgetting things.
  • Easily distracted.

Primarily impulsive/hyperactive ADHD.

Teens with primarily impulsive/hyperactive ADHD have a hard time controlling their impulses and will talk or act before they think; do things without asking for permission first; rush through their assignments, making many careless mistakes; and be prone to emotional outbursts or reactions that are inappropriate or out of proportion to the situation. Symptoms include:

  • Tendency to be restless, fidgety, and have trouble sitting still.
  • Inability to engage in activities quietly.
  • Easily bored.
  • Talking excessively and interrupting others who are speaking.
  • Calling out answers in class before the teacher finishes asking the question.
  • Trouble waiting in line or for their turn.
  • Impatient and easily frustrated.

Combined ADHD.

Combined ADHD is the most common type of ADHD. Teens with this type exhibit both inattentive and impulsive/hyperactive behaviors.

Helping your teen cope with the symptoms of ADHD.

  • Educate yourself about ADHD symptoms in teens and the challenges they create so you can better understand and support your teen.
  • Accept your teen for who he or she is.
  • Stay positive and encouraging.
  • Recognize that your teen’s symptoms cannot be fixed by rigid rules or parenting styles and that they are not due to a lack of discipline on his or her part.
  • Set clear expectations with consequences.
  • Praise and reward good behavior.
  • Don’t punish your teen for behavior he or she has no control over.
  • Target the ADHD and not your teen.
  • Focus on solutions to ADHD-related problems and helping your teen achieve them.
  • Help your teen with scheduling and keeping things organized.
  • Minimize stress and overstimulation in your home environment and keep distractions to a minimum.
  • Help your teen create and stick to regular routines that provide structure to his or her day.
  • Make sure your teen has access to any necessary accommodations in school.
  • Seek counseling for your teen and remain involved and supportive in his or her care.

Benefits of counseling for ADHD symptoms in teens.

A trained mental health professional can help your teen understand ADHD and equip him or her with the necessary skills to cope with the challenges created by his or her symptoms.

If you are interested in learning more about ADHD symptoms in teens or would like to set up an appointment to meet with a faith-based counselor specializing in teenage ADHD please give us a call.


David Perlstein. “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens.” eMedicineHealth.

Katie Hurley. “ADHD & Teens: How to Help Them Cope with Their Struggles.” Psycom. Updated October 17, 2022.

Zia Sherrell. “What to know about ADHD screening?” MedicalNewsToday. July 30, 2021.

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Self-help Strategies for Adult ADHD

Did you know that whether or not your symptoms are linked to adult ADHD, stress, or any other type of mental health condition, many self-help tools and methods are available to help you regain and enjoy your mental balance?

If you are looking for a short collection of tips directly affecting those who have, or suspect they have, adult ADHD, read on for more information on how to improve your memory, enjoy a stable mood, and increase your concentration.

Strategies to mitigate the effects of adult ADHD.

Appreciate the power of sleep.

Good sleep hygiene is the routine we adopt when we prepare our bodies and minds for a good night’s sleep. Best practices regarding sleep include turning off backlit devices (i.e. mobile phones, laptops, TVs) two hours before your bedtime to encourage your body to release adequate melatonin. Keeping a regular sleep routine of going to bed around the same time seven days a week, and limiting your daytime naps to a maximum of half an hour.

Understand the effects of screen time.

Outside of working hours, experts suggest that you limit yourself to less than two hours of screen time per day. And when you are using your mobile phone then try to use it in a way that avoids having to multitask. Rather use one app at a time and resist the temptation to switch between them. In the same way, do not flip between multiple tabs when you are browsing the net.

Eat well.

It is good to know how eating affects you. Eating healthily often has the effect of your body and mind receiving consistent energy throughout the day, and this helps you sustain your focus. Making sure that a high percentage of your diet includes lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits will prevent any nutritional deficiencies and also regulate your blood sugar levels.

Routines help your brain relax.

Regular daytime routines provide your body and mind with stability and predictability. This is extremely helpful for someone dealing with adult ADHD. At work, create schedules by listing your to-dos and prioritizing them, keeping in mind when you are typically fresh and full of energy and when your energy is low, such as later in the afternoon.

Regular exercise.

It should not surprise anyone that physical movement increases the functioning of your brain whether or not you have adult ADHD. Exercise is also linked to the reduction of anxiety and depression by lowering the amount of cortisol, a stress hormone, in your body while increasing levels of dopamine and serotonin.

Practicing mindfulness.

Bringing your attention back to the present so that you can recognize your emotions and process them properly is the practice of mindfulness. It is a technique used to actively manage thoughts and emotions so that your brain filters out distractions and is trained to control impulses that are not helpful. Combined, these create a significant improvement in adult ADHD symptoms.

Get your senses on your side.

Depending on your preference, take control of the sounds in your environment. This can be done by playing soft music (baroque-style classical music is effective in this way), playing white noise, or making sure that it is absolutely silent by using noise-canceling headphones.

Be aware of how you respond to light, does a bright working environment assist your energy levels? Make your surroundings work for you by fine-tuning the sensory input your body receives.

Know yourself.

Knowing your likes and preferences, such as what it takes for you to get into an energy flow state where you have good focus, or how you are distracted, and being aware of some of your triggers of adult ADHD, will assist you as you adopt behavior and approaches to different situations that work for you.

Ask for help.

Adopting self-help techniques does not require you to face your adult ADHD all by yourself. Talk about the things which you are battling. There are a variety of ways you can do this, such as joining an online ADHD support group and sharing with your family and work colleagues.

Recruit professional Christian help.

Informal check-ins with friends are useful and a key part of your journey, however, you can take it up a level and enlist the help of a counselor. This professional can help you discuss a potential ADHD diagnosis, manage how you experience spikes in symptoms, and deal with any anxiety and depression.

Drawing on advice to negotiate stressful life events, creating supportive relationships, and being better at knowing your thoughts and emotions, are invaluable tools to become more robust, prepared, and bonded to those around you. These are all important indicators of mental and physical health and quality of life.

If you’re looking for additional help to better understand adult ADHD beyond this article, then why not browse our online counselor directory or contact our office to schedule an appointment? We would be honored to walk with you on this journey.

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Adult ADHD in the Workplace: How to Cope

Christian counselors are equipped to guide adults who have ADHD to an understanding of their symptoms and implement tools to manage the challenges that the condition throws up. Adults struggling with ADHD can benefit from support that incorporates spiritual, psychological, and organizational aspects.

Spiritual maturity is important, and biblical wisdom can help people to achieve strength and peace both internally and externally.

Overwhelmed in the Workplace

Adults experiencing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) tend to have significant difficulties in managing their condition at work. It is not uncommon for them to experience feelings of being overwhelmed by the demands placed on them, compounded by an accompanying influx of anxiety.

To-do lists that seem never-ending, in-trays that are overflowing, and a sense of always playing catch-up are common issues that adults with ADHD report. Other common issues include difficulty with timekeeping, missing deadlines, and misplaced files and folders.

Struggling to Get Ahead?

Adults with ADHD may find that they are overlooked for promotion, or in constant conflict with other staff members. This may be because of missed deadlines, or difficulties with social interaction and impulse control.

It can cause tremendous stress when the workplace is filled with conflict, and it is common for adults with ADHD to frequently change jobs and career trajectories. It can be a struggle when faced with insufficient communication skills, a tendency towards distractibility, procrastination problems, and issues with project management.

Compounding the problem is the fact that many adults with ADHD have never received a formal diagnosis, and therefore have not been given access to the right support and understanding.

Being constantly beset by the problems associated with ADHD can lead to depression, poor self-image, and feelings of failure. However, receiving a diagnosis can open doors to greater levels of support and opportunities to learn valuable coping skills.

Adult ADHD Success Stories

Adults with ADHD need to be reminded that there are many successful people throughout the world, including celebrities, musicians, politicians, journalists and business tycoons who have ADHD. Their success has come from having a set of coping skills that have allowed them to overcome the challenges of their condition and focus on their strengths.

ADHD Symptoms that Affect Work Efficiency

  • Being distracted by external things (such as other people on the phone nearby, people passing by, noises outside the building) and finding it difficult to concentrate.
  • Daydreaming and procrastination
  • Impulse control issues such as angry outbursts
  • Hyperactivity that causes the need to always be on the move
  • Forgetting deadlines
  • Short-term memory issues
  • Being easily bored and not paying attention
  • Time management difficulties
  • Procrastination that impacts on other team members
  • Lack of organization
  • Difficulties with listening/paying attention
  • Talking too much or over other people
  • Failing to function in the job role

Ultimately, all of these symptoms of adult ADHD can be linked back to what is termed failure of executive functioning. This relates to a person’s cognitive functioning, specifically in the prefrontal lobe. What this means for a person with ADHD is that there are problems in the part of the brain that allows people to self-monitor their performance.

In ADHD, this portion of the prefrontal lobe is under-aroused, meaning that it is impossible for them to self-monitor. This results in distractibility that causes significant problems.

Many adults with ADHD may be described by their colleagues as lazy, lacking a sense of responsibility, and hopelessly disorganized. Such labels are damaging because they are untrue. Adults with ADHD can feel like they are fighting a losing battle trying to meet the demands placed on them, and their performance does not reflect the level of struggle they are experiencing.

Finding an Effective Solution for Adult ADHD

There are various ways to help adults with ADHD manage the chaos and confusion in their workplace. Generally, a combination of counseling and medication is the most effective approach, particularly for individuals whose symptoms have been evident since childhood.

In addition to the calming effects of medication, counseling can help adults with ADHD to develop coping mechanisms that can ease the degree of their difficulties. Some effective solutions include adjusting working hours, having a distraction-free workspace, or even working from home.

More complex coping skills can be implemented when distraction levels suddenly increase. For example, the individual can learn to escape the distraction zone and locate a quiet and empty space so as to be able to continue working. “Do not disturb” signs and diverting telephone calls may also be useful techniques.

When individuals are particularly affected by visual distractions, it can be advisable to avoid open-plan office spaces and have a desk that faces a wall rather than a window. Desk clutter should be avoided.

What Can You Do If You Are an Adult with ADHD?

It is more difficult to find strategies for reducing internal distractions, however. The busy mind of an adult with ADHD can be inundated with thoughts unrelated to work, random recollection of missed appointments, and prone to daydreaming due to boredom.

Some effective solutions for these issues can be always keeping a notebook to hand so as to write down random thoughts and ideas and then return to the task at hand. A diary or other kind of planning system can assist with appointment issues, as well as setting reminders and alarms.

When it comes to boredom, it is important to find ways of maintaining concentration and interest in the project. It may be that a career change is necessary in order to find work that captivates interest.

For issues with hyperactivity, taking regular breaks and exploring physical ways of dealing with excess energy and a need for constant movement can be useful techniques. A standing desk may be another solution.

Gaining the support of your manager or a colleague can be hugely beneficial. They can help to build a schedule that you can keep to, and it is widely reported that having structure can ease the challenges of living with ADHD.

Impulse control difficulties can be mediated by having ready responses when others make offers that could lead you off track. It is possible to train yourself to check the diary or schedule rather than jumping at the chance of distraction.

When planning meetings, factor in extra time so that if distractions emerge, you can still avoid being late. Stick to the schedule you’ve created and be realistic in your expectations of yourself.

Navigating your workday can be especially difficult when your to-do list seems to be never-ending. Counselors can help you to prioritize and avoid overwhelming yourself with anxiety while still keeping on schedule with the project at hand.

Counselor Coaches

It can be helpful for adults with ADHD to view their counselors as “coaches” who can keep them on track and help create structure and build effective schedules. Reporting back to their counselor about what is and isn’t working means that new skills and techniques can be implemented as necessary.

Over time, this enables the adult with ADHD to develop their ability to self-monitor, and there will come a time when they no longer need the help of their coach.

For some people, even making the smallest of changes to their approach can have a considerable impact on their workplace efficiency. It is important to remember that everyone is different, and has different needs, so what works for one person may not work for another.

A counselor can help to establish what each individual needs, and build a personalized skill set that addresses the specific difficulties being faced.

Disclosing ADHD to Employers

While some adults with ADHD are open with their employers about their condition, many individuals are afraid that disclosing that they have ADHD will result in discrimination.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA) prohibit employers from discriminating against staff with disabilities. Unfortunately, these protections do not automatically extend to adults with ADHD.

To be protected by the ADA and RA, an individual has to meet four specific conditions, and there is a requirement that they disclose their disability to their employer. If the ADA and RA apply, the company is required to make allowances for the difficulties a person experiences, but if an employee fails to disclose their disorder, no such allowances are necessary.

In certain cases, disclosing that you have ADHD is essential:

  • When you are afraid that you will lose your job, and can only succeed in your work if the allowances of ADA and RA are made
  • When your employer is planning to dismiss you because you have failed to perform to the standards required by your role
  • When you are on medication but are still unable to cope with the demands of your job—in this situation, making a disclosure can help to reduce the pressure you are experiencing and may open up new avenues of support in addition to improving workplace relationships.

Assessing Your Career Choice

When an adult is diagnosed with ADHD, they may begin to realize that part of their difficulties is related to their career choice. Some careers may prove to be incompatible with their needs resulting from ADHD.

It is worthwhile considering a career change if one of your major difficulties is a lack of engagement in work that leads to excessive daydreaming. It is much easier to stay focused if you are genuinely interested in and enjoy the work that you are doing. It can be helpful to:

  • Recognize the things that interest you the most, and research jobs that fit in this area
  • Reflect on your abilities and achievements, as these will reveal your strongest capabilities
  • Look back at your school years to discover the subjects you found easiest and most enjoyable, as well as uncovering particular strengths
  • Investigate your personality type
  • Consider your values and find careers that align with what matters most to you
  • Evaluate your aptitudes
  • Look at your energy levels and consider careers that fit best with these
  • Reflect on any patterns of failure in previous jobs—identifying these can help prevent repeating the same mistakes.

Christian Counseling for Adult ADHD

Statistically, over 8 million American adults are battling with the challenges of ADHD, and inevitably this means that there is a high demand for support. A Christian counselor can work with adults with ADHD, utilizing talk therapy, building spiritual coping mechanisms, and helping the client to build essential skills that can improve work satisfaction and efficiency.

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