You have noticed that your teenager has difficulty paying attention when you give him instructions. He may constantly need to move, may fidget or get up and walk around in the middle of class or dinner. If his lack of focus and hyperactivity are a regular occurrence that have lasted longer than six months, he may have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. While ADHD cannot be cured, several treatments may help keep your teenager on track.
Three main types of treatment are available for ADHD. Some teenagers may be given medications to help calm their symptoms. Counseling is another type of treatment that may work for some teenagers. Other teenagers may be able to keep their symptoms under control by making changes to their environment and by using tools to help them maintain focus. Some people find that a combination of treatments, known as a multimodal approach, works best, according to Kids Health.
Doctors commonly prescribe either stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall, or atomoxetine, a nonstimulant, to teenagers with ADHD, according to MayoClinic.com. Although stimulants increase hyperactivity in adults, they actually work to calm children and teenagers down and increase their ability to pay attention. The amount of medication a teenager needs to take varies from person to person, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Some teenagers may experience side effects from one stimulant but not from another. A doctor may prescribe atomoxetine if stimulants are not effective.
Medication for ADHD can produce several side effects in some teenagers. Mild side effects include sleeplessness and a loss of appetite. Such side effects can be eliminated by reducing a teenager’s dose of medication or by giving him the medicine earlier in the day, according to NIMH. More serious side effects include a risk of death from a heart problem, according to MayoClinic.com. Teenagers who are on atomoxetine may start thinking about suicide and may develop problems with their liver, according to MayoClinic.com.
If your child has ADHD, you may want to enroll in some sort of family or group therapy with him. Several different therapies exist to help treat ADHD. Behavioral therapy can help your teenager learn to control his actions and can help him learn to stay on track by teaching him to plan and organize activities and assignments. A teenager may also be taught to reward himself for completing tasks on time and for behaving appropriately. Likewise, parents may be trained to praise a teenager with ADHD when he behaves properly.
Some symptoms of ADHD may be controlled by monitoring a teenager’s diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, some additives in food, such as dyes, can trigger ADHD symptoms in some children and teenagers. If your child has ADHD, you may attempt to control his symptoms through diet. The Mayo Clinic recommends eliminating foods that seem to trigger symptoms under the guidance of a doctor. A healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains and that does not include many processed foods may be best for a teenager with ADHD.
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