Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a medical and therapeutic term that is being used to diagnose young adolescents when it comes to their uncontrolled behaviors. While the disorder has been noted over multiple medical logs over the span of 200 years, its familiarity and acceptance have only recently taken a front seat regarding mental health.

Signs of ADHD In Adolescents

While some behaviors are appropriate for an adolescent’s age and environment, those with ADHD experience a heightened apprehension to societal demands.

  • Inattention – This behavior is often the first sign that a child is experiencing an overload of information. While part of their brain is trying to retain the details, the other half is emotionally taxed. The result is inattention. While more boys than girls are annually diagnosed with ADHD, this behavior is often seen across the board equally.
  • Hyperactivity – This is not your typical age-appropriate level of energy; this behavior presents itself in an endless amount of mental stamina. Adolescents that have ADHD, will often use this extra energy to consistently change tasks or seek out more stimulants in the form of risky behavior.
  • Enhanced aggression – This behavior goes beyond stubbornness. As children, this may begin as pushing or slapping their parents when being told to stop. As they become physically stronger with age, safety becomes a factor for them and the family. Young adults turn to this attitude out of frustration and lack of ability to process emotions. 
  • Excessive talking – Parents often report that their child often interrupts conversations or aggressively acts out to receive attention when attention is diverted from them. With an endless amount of energy to fulfill, the adolescent is continually looking for others to share the information with, to allow them to move past that mental segment.

What are the Available Medications?

Many options are available for families when it comes to a treatment plan, from medications to therapeutic services. Often these services are used in combination with one another to address multiple behavioral symptoms.

  • Stimulants – These drugs are often prescribed to children and teens to address their inattention and overstimulation. Brand names include Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta. In adolescents, these medications counter the need to consistently change tasks and anxiety. These drugs are meant to work within a few hours and can last short-term or long-term, depending on the dosage and brand.
  • Non-stimulants – These medications are used in conjunction with stimulants. Blood pressure and antidepressants fall under this category. While stimulants are effective within twenty-four hours, non-stimulants take up to one month to take effect.
  • Herbal remedies – This natural treatment focuses on over-the-counter foods and vitamins to counteract overstimulation in the brain. Popular uses stem from melatonin for sleep and herbal teas to quell hyperactivity. Even red dye 40 has been shown to cause extra sensitivity to those with ADHD/ADD. With an herbal path, families often focus on eliminating this dye with an altered diet.

How are Schools Adapting?

Most school districts, including private institutions, have implemented an alternative schedule for students that struggle in a peer-related classroom. These programs offer individualized homework help, secluded areas for students to take tests, and less demanding class loads. Some states have begun providing modified diplomas to those students that require extra assistance in their studies to assure their completion of required credits.

When Is It Time to Investigate Further Therapeutic Options?

ADHD behaviors do not only affect the adolescent but the family as a unit. Parents struggle with consistently trying new practices and habits that might bring some relief to their child. With medications, side effects become another factor to deal with, such as excessive sleepiness or further uncontrolled anxiety and depression.

Additionally, adolescents might display other behaviors or habits that do not seem to respond to traditional remedies:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • An obsessive need to use electronics
  • Self-care is neglected
  • Peer isolation
  • Consistent self-doubt
  • Unprovoked anger

When a young adult is developmentally delayed and dealing with multiple diagnoses, trying to sort out the emotions becomes overwhelming for them. Rationally, they want to feel “normal”, but find their attempts to be futile. This not only weighs heavy on their subconscious, but they express their frustration by acting out or shutting out the world completely by isolating themselves from their peers. It is at this point those caregivers and adolescents often feel defeated.

What is the Difference Between Residential and Outpatient Services?

Outpatient services are offered to adolescents that need occasional therapy, continued medicine support around their symptoms, and school-based learning alternatives.

Residential services combine all aspects of an adolescent’s mental and behavioral health in an onsite setting. Students are provided with housing, daily therapeutic activities, and on-site prescription needs. These facilities have twenty-four-hour staff that monitor and correct behaviors during a crisis while maintaining a supportive environment.

Alternative Therapy Environments

For years, the only onsite options were to send an adolescent to a building facility for more intense therapeutic services. While these programs are still being offered, many are now utilizing outdoor environments to address behavioral issues.

  • Residential treatment – Students use this style of environment for schooling and more intensive individualized therapy. Schedules are not only restrictive but heavily regimented by staff.
  • Wilderness therapy – Students spend their time living and engaging with peers in an outdoor atmosphere. Staff guides students to participate in more group ambients to teach peer-related trust and friendship.
  • Hybrid therapy – With this model, students often take up residence in a building facility while therapy is conducted in a natural environment. Schooling platforms are utilized in both surroundings while maintaining peer group activities.

How can Seven Stars help your child today?

Seven Stars is a therapeutic treatment program for adolescents ages 13-17 who are falling behind their peers due to neurological and developmental disorders.  Our residential treatment center works to build confidence and skills in our students using a combination of acute care stabilization, outdoor adventure therapy, and positive psychology.  At Seven Stars, we use holistic techniques to help build success in teens struggling with neurodevelopmental disorders.

For more information about how Seven Stars can help your child, please call (844) 601-1167 today!