Signs of ADD in Teenage Boys

As a parent, it can be challenging to assess whether or not your teenager has ADD or ADHD. Signs of ADD in teens are often difficult to identify as all teenagers exhibit periods of excitement, restlessness, and high energy. These are common traits for individuals of that age. So how can you tell whether or not your teen has ADHD? And when do you know if it’s time to seek out a treatment option, like a teen residential treatment center?

Each case of ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is unique. While each individual with this disorder may express specific behaviors, there are common signs that can help indicate whether or not their behaviors are actually representative of ADHD. There are even different symptoms commonly expressed by teenage boys compared to teenage girls. To better understand the signs of ADD, we’re taking a closer look at this common disorder (one that affects millions all over the world) and identifying key differences in ADHD between boys and girls.


It’s easy for those outside of the medical field to confuse attention deficit disorder (ADD) with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many even use these terms interchangeably. However, there are key differences between the two. In the 1990s, doctors determined that ADD is one type of ADHD and ADHD would now become the umbrella term that covers the three different disorders. Thus, referring simply to ADD is a bit outdated and ADHD is the more commonly used medical designation.

Many parents will be worried that their teenager could be diagnosed with ADHD. But this is no rare disorder. ADHD, in fact, is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in the world. ADHD affects people of all ages, especially children and teenagers. In the United States alone, over 6 million children between the ages of two and seventeen have been diagnosed with some form of ADHD.


ADHD is divided into three specific types: inattentive type, hyperactive-impulsive type, and combination type. While each type shares similarities, they each are defined by specific characteristics and associated symptoms. Here’s a closer look to learn more about each specific type of ADHD:

1.            Inattentive type.

This type of ADHD covers symptoms traditionally associated with ADD. Teens with inattentive type ADHD experience more issues with inattention and lack of focus than hyperactivity. Common symptoms include getting bored easily, trouble focusing, distancing themselves, disorganization, and what seems like constant daydreaming. Teenage girls tend to exhibit these ADHD symptoms.

2.            Hyperactive-impulsive type.

This type of ADHD is characterized by hyperactive symptoms. Teens with this form of ADHD may find it difficult paying attention, staying focused, or sitting still. Common symptoms include fidgeting, constant talking, impatience, and acting out of turn.

3.            Combination type.

As the name suggests, this type of ADHD combines symptoms from both inattentive type and hyperactive-impulsive type.


While millions of teenagers experience ADHD symptoms, gender does seem to play a role on ADHD diagnoses. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), boys are three times as likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis than girls. But why is this? Does this disorder simply show up more in boys than it does girls?

Doctors aren’t so sure. In fact, as age increases, the number of men and women diagnosed with ADHD tends to become more balanced. Some doctors believe that this is based on how teenage boys and girls express their ADHD symptoms.

According to some doctors, boys receive three times as many ADHD diagnoses as girls because they express their symptoms externally. Teenage boys with ADHD often exhibit hyperactive behaviors, like extreme bouts of energy, constant talking, running around, or an inability to focus on one subject. Teenage girls, on the other hand, tend to internalize their ADHD symptoms. They may seem removed, distant, or living in their “own world,” which makes it much more difficult for a parent to recognize the disorder.


While every ADHD diagnosis is individual and unique, there are common signs that many teenage boys with ADHD will exhibit. These signs can be a starting point for diagnosis and help parents determine whether or not their teenager or child could benefit from medical assistance. Here are some of the most common signs of ADHD in teenage boys:

  • Extreme bouts of energy.
  • Talking incessantly.
  • Impulsivity.
  • Running and intense physical activity.
  • Hyperactivity and trouble sitting still.
  • Inability to focus on one thing at a time.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Disorganized and forgetful.
  • Difficult concentrating and completing a task.
  • Poor decision making (ability to look at the “big picture”)

Of course, almost every teenager will exhibit some of these behaviors occasionally. If these habits become chronic and impede your teenager’s ability to go about their daily lives, then you should consider looking into a medical diagnosis.


1.            Therapy and behavioral intervention.

Psychotherapy, also referred to as “talk therapy” is one effective treatment option for addressing ADHD symptoms in teenagers. These therapy sessions can be performed individually or in groups and often benefit from parental involvement. Behavioral intervention can help both parents and teenagers develop healthier and more productive habits and responses to ADHD symptoms.

2.            Medication.

Several medications have proved effective at helping teens manage their ADHD symptoms. Always consult a medical professional before considering prescription medication of any type.

3.            Multi-modal treatment.

For many teens with ADHD symptoms, therapy or medication alone isn’t enough. This is why doctors have designed multi-modal treatment options that combine therapy and medication.

4. Residential treatment center.

Residential treatment centers are in-patient facilities that help individuals overcome a wide range of mental health and substance abuse disorders. Many treatment centers are designed specifically for teens.


While often overlooked, mental health facilities for teens are  incredibly important and should be openly discussed in every family. The trials of simply being a teenager are challenging enough. Dealing with school, work, developing relationships, and balancing responsibilities can make this period in a young person’s life one of the most difficult. Now imagine going through all that while living with ADHD.

Luckily, your teenager doesn’t have to do this alone. If you believe your teen is suffering from ADHD, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about how they’re feeling. Then you can look into potentially receiving a professional medical diagnosis. This will allow you to determine the best path for treatment. Whether it’s medication, therapy, or a residential teen treatment center, there are many options for helping your teen regain control of not just their ADHD symptoms, but their life.

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