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ADHD in Adolescents
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects behavior. You may have a hard time sitting still or paying attention. You may feel like you have a short attention span. ADHD can cause problems with your daily activities at work, school, or home. You may also have problems getting along with other people. As you get older, you will be able to manage your own health. You may be away from home more often spending time with your friends or being involved in sports. Adults, such as your parents and healthcare providers, can help as you become more active in your own care.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- You feel like hurting yourself or someone else.
Call your doctor if:
- You feel you cannot cope at home, work, or school.
- You have new symptoms since the last time you visited your healthcare provider.
- Your symptoms are getting worse.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may be given to help you pay attention better. You may also be given medicines to decrease or prevent symptoms of anxiety or depression.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Be patient with yourself, and ask others to be patient. ADHD can be frustrating, especially if you forget to do something important or have trouble focusing during a conversation. Try not to focus on a problem, such as something you forgot to do. Create a reminder so you will not forget again. Focus on what you are good at doing. For example, you may have strong math skills or do well in sports. You can help others be more patient by asking them to let you focus on 1 task at a time. A person speaking with you may need to face you and make eye contact before speaking.
- Use reminders for tasks you need to complete. Set an alarm to remind you when you need to do something. Make a checklist of items you need to pack and take with you the next day to school or work. You may also need to set an alarm to remind you to take ADHD medicine. Break tasks into small steps instead of trying to complete everything at the same time.
- Remove distractions. Distractions such as music, conversations, and TV can keep you from concentrating. Activities such as driving a car or doing homework need your full attention. You can remove distractions while you drive by not listening to the radio and not having conversations with passengers. Find a quiet place to do your homework. Do not have the TV or radio on while you do your homework.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods can increase your concentration and help you feel calmer. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, whole-grain breads, and cooked beans. Limit foods that are high in sugar, such as candy. Limit the amount of caffeine you have each day. Sugar and caffeine may make ADHD symptoms worse.
- Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Sleep can help decrease the symptoms of ADHD. Set a regular time to go to bed every night and a time to get up each morning. Do not watch TV, use the computer, or play video games for at least 1 hour before bedtime. Electronic devices can make it hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Reduce stress. Stress may make your ADHD worse. Ask about ways to calm your body and mind. These may include deep breathing, muscle relaxation, music, and biofeedback. Talk to someone about things that upset you.
Follow up with your doctor as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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