ADHD traits are different for everyone. While distractibility, disorganization, poor concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are traits that nearly every person with the ADHD diagnosis deals with in some form, how these traits affect an individual’s day-to-day life varies. Of course, we are all uniquely different which means how we deal with, combat, or navigate our struggles are uniquely different as well.
HOW DOES YOUR ADHD AFFECT YOU?
As in any endeavor of self-improvement, the first step is to take stock. “What difficulties am I facing today?” Not all ADHD traits need to be corrected, not all can. It’s important to know the difference and focus of what skills you need to acquire to better your quality of life.
Below are some common issues faced by teens with ADHD and example solutions. Pick and choose what works for you. Modify the solutions to fit your need. Tap into one of the better traits of ADHD and be creative. This can be a rewarding experience.
COMMON ADHD TEEN STRUGGLES
Poor time management skills: This may result in missing deadlines, opportunities and doling out never-ending apologies or fibs to cover for tardiness to professors, friends and family. This behavior can make a person seem unreliable, irresponsible and cause low self-esteem.
Solution: Planners are a good solution for anyone with this problem. However, for an ADHD mind a more visual representation is in order. Large calendars on the wall can be skimmed multiple times a day making the information easy to remember, and hard to ignore. Also, the next time you need to complete a timed task, put something on that you’re familiar with so as the story or song moves forward, you will be subconsciously aware of the passage of time.
Impulsivity: Impulsivity can impact a person in a variety of ways: conversation style, impulse shopping, risky behavior, thrill-seeking ect. It is important to take note of how your impulsivity affects you and learn to take control. When does your impulsivity get you in trouble? What kind of impulsive behaviors do you have?
Typically the risks taken by a person with ADHD are not taken because of a lack of reasoning ability, but the lack of impulse control in the moment. To circumnavigate this you need to ask yourself “What risks are likely to be present in this environment?” and “How am I going to chose to respond?” When an ADHD mind makes the habit of forming decisions before they’re in that impulsive moment, they are much less likely to make poor decisions that could result in harm. Learning this skill is something everyone does to a degree, it is an essential part of becoming a successful adult.
Concentration: Concentration management is one of the most difficult obstacles to take on because it is such an intangible issue. What it comes down to is training. At what point in your day are you suffering from this problem the most?
Manipulating the senses is a great way to draw in your attention span. Find a scent, taste or texture that you can use to trigger your mind into acknowledging-it’s time to focus. For example, a piece of hard candy, gum, candle or even a keychain. After some practice using these tools you’ll find your mind will begin responding to the stimulus quicker and more efficiently each time.
While navigating some of the less-than-stellar side effects of ADHD is important for anyone struggling in their day-to-day life. It is equally as important to understand and embrace what your brilliant ADHD mind can do. ADHD minds are typically playful, creative, energetic and original thinkers. Ensuring your mind has a healthy outlet to express itself is essential in controlling the negative aspects as well. Regular exercise, low stimulant diet (eg low sugar, caffeine), time in nature, creative outlets and designated leisure time are all vital in working with an ADHD mind. Once you learn to give your mind what it needs to feel energized, only then can you work to rein it in when your mind wants to wander during inappropriate times. Be patient in the give-and-take process of learning self-regulation and know that guidance is always there if you find yourself needing help.
Need help overcoming the symptoms of AD/HD? We're here!
Depression in teens is a serious issue that if left unaddressed can lead to a variety of negative consequences. Teenagers, like adults, have an increased chance of becoming depressed during the holiday season. This affliction alters how young people think and feel, and can lead to behavioral issues. In some cases, being depressed can even cause teenagers to experience physical distress.
It is important to keep in mind that adolescence is a tumultuous time that will cause teenagers to have many highs and lows emotionally. Because of this, there is no need to panic if a teenager seems a little sad occasionally. However, the state of being clinically depressed in teenagers is a very real condition and it is important for parents and loved ones to recognize the signs.
Reasons Adolescents Become Clinically Depressed
A central cause of an individual becoming clinically depressed has not been identified but there are a variety of causal factors.
• Biochemical Factors- Neurotransmitters are responsible for the transfer of signals throughout the brain and nervous system. When Neurotransmitters do not function properly one result can be the increased likelihood that an individual can become depressed.
• Hormonal Disruption- Sudden changes in the body’s hormones can cause teenagers to become depressed
• Genetic- Adolescents that have relatives who have been diagnosed as clinically depressed are at a higher risk of developing the disease themselves
• Traumatic Childhood Events- Trauma experienced in childhood can increase the chances of an individual suffering from being depressed in adolescent years.
Symptoms Of Clinically Depressed Teenagers
The signs and symptoms for clinically depressed teenagers can vary greatly in severity but often include obvious changes in attitude and behavior. These changes often manifest in dysfunction at home, in school, or in social behaviors.
I would suggest that parents closely monitor their teenagers if seeing any of the following behaviors:
• Expressions of sadness, especially crying for no known reason
• Sudden irritability
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Anger and frustration over small matters
• Lack of interest that once was a source of enjoyment
• Inability to get along with family and friends
• Grim outlook on future
• Inability to reason, concentrate, or to remember things
This is by no means an exhaustive list of signs a teenager may be suffering from the effects of being depressed but presents an idea of things to be aware of.
I would also like to reiterate the point that adolescence is a time of intense turmoil in the life of teenagers and many of these issues may be seen occasionally in teens who are not clinically depressed. A good barometer to use is if these feelings are accompanied also by sudden changes in behaviors like:
• Lethargic behavior
• Extreme change in sleeping habits
• Sudden changes in appetite
• Drug and alcohol usage
• Restlessness or inability to sit still
• Neglectful of hygiene or appearance
• Disruptive behavior at home or school
• Poor performance at school, especially if the teenager was previously a good student
When To Seek Professional Help
If a teenager that you suspect is depressed continues to exhibit any of these symptoms it is important to talk with a doctor or mental health expert that has experience working with adolescents. The school or family doctor of the teen is a good place to look for resources or references to seeking out any help a teen may need.
Teens suffering from clinical depression are unlikely to get better on their own and this disorder can subject them to many consequences, both immediate and long-term if left untreated. Depressed teenagers are at a higher risk for suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, delinquency and a host of other potential problems.
When To Seek Emergency Help
Thoughts of suicide are often a byproduct of clinical depression in teenagers. Do not take any chances when a teen expresses suicidal thoughts or feelings. Always err on the side of caution and assume any thoughts of suicide to be a credible threat.
Teenagers that are clinically depressed is a serious issue and should be addressed with the necessary diligence. Teenagers that are clinically depressed are at risk for a number of negative consequences that can have adverse effects on their futures.
Adolescent angst is normal and should not be confused with the more serious condition involving clinically depressed teenagers. It is important for parents and loved ones to first know the signs and symptoms of a teen that is clinically depressed, and then to seek out the help the teen needs.