ADHD Symptoms in Teen Boys vs Girls: Common Signs & How to Cope

ADHD Symptoms in Teen Boys vs Girls: Common Signs & How to Cope

"Experts say a better way to establish a treatment plan is to 'consider individual differences' rather than gender differences."
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The teen years can be grueling, with its hormonal changes, peer pressures, and worries about the future. For a teen with ADHD, the world can seem even more challenging, especially if they feel misunderstood. And when it comes to ADHD in teen girls, symptoms are often missed because they tend to present differently. 

Read on to find out how ADHD symptoms in teens differ between the boys and girls, how they compare to ADHD symptoms in adults, and explore treatment options. 

Understanding ADHD Symptoms in Teens

ADHD symptoms in kids and teens tend to manifest differently than they do in adults. For instance, hyperactivity in a child might look like running around the classroom or jumping on furniture. Hyperactivity in a teen will be more subdued, maybe appearing as excessive talking or fidgeting. Meanwhile, hyperactivity in an adult manifests as a general restlessness, which may include racing thoughts or risky behavior. 

Whether a teen was diagnosed with ADHD as a child or not, some symptoms may have settled down, others may just be emerging, or a teen may have already learned to mask their ADHD, which describes hiding their symptoms and concealing how the condition impairs their functioning.

While ADHD looks different in every person and may vary according to sex, gender, cultural factors, and individual personality, some general traits of ADHD in teens include the following:

  • Unable to focus on schoolwork
  • Prone to mistakes
  • Poor time management
  • Difficulty finishing tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Avoidance of mentally taxing tasks
  • Emotional sensitivity
  • Excessive talking and interrupting
  • Fidgeting
  • Trouble maintaining friendships
  • Increased conflict with parents 
  • Staying up too late at night

Gender Differences in ADHD Symptoms 

According to the CDC, boys are three times more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis than girls.1 This isn’t because girls are less likely to experience ADHD, but because their symptoms emerge differently. 

Studies have shown boys with ADHD typically portray externalized symptoms, such as fidgeting and impulsivity.2 Girls with ADHD, on the other hand, usually show internalized symptoms like inattentiveness and low self-esteem. Since internalized symptoms are harder to spot, teen girls are harder to diagnose, leading many of them to get missed.

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Recognizing ADHD Signs in Teen Boys

Though the hyperactivity and impulsivity they may have displayed in childhood may be more relaxed, symptoms in teen boys still tend to be external and easier to spot than in teen girls. 

Common ADHD signs in teen boys include: 

  • Constant movement like fidgeting and tapping
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Lack of focus
  • Physical aggression
  • Insensitivity toward others
  • Blurting and interrupting
  • Defensiveness
  • Always needing to be right
  • Risky behaviors like reckless driving or substance abuse

Recognizing ADHD Signs in Teen Girls

Girls are more likely to be diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, though their hyperactivity may manifest differently. Because they are more likely to internalize their frustrations and feel misunderstood, they are at greater risk for self-harm than boys.

Common ADHD signs in teen girls include: 

  • Inattentiveness, or tendency to “daydream”
  • Appearing withdrawn
  • Forgetfulness
  • Low self-esteem and self-doubt
  • Comorbid anxiety or depression
  • Appearing not to listen or “zoning out”
  • Verbal aggression, such as teasing or taunting
  • Eating disorders
  • Perfectionism
  • People-pleasing
  • Shyness or social anxiety
  • Repetitive behaviors like skin picking or hair pulling
  • Increased risk of self-harm

Treatment Options for Each Gender

Though their symptoms may not look the same, you do not need to consider different treatment plans based on your child’s gender. Experts say a better way to establish a treatment plan is to “consider individual differences” rather than gender differences.3 

Some options to consider include behavioral therapy like CBT, parent-teen training, classroom accommodations, and medication. While some teens find great success in taking prescription medications for ADHD, there are a number of side effects you and your teen should know about first. These include sleep problems, decreased appetite, moodiness, and headaches.

As an alternative, Brillia is a homeopathic medication designed to reduce symptoms like inattention and hyperactivity without any  harmful side effects. Free from harsh synthetic chemicals, Brillia’s active ingredient consists of antibodies to the S100B protein, which plays a key role in many different intracellular and extracellular brain processes, and is related to mood regulation. Extremely gentle and targeted, Brillia does not affect any other systems in the body and has no contraindications, so you can add it to your teen’s regimen without worry. Brillia is not habit-forming, nor does it cause drowsiness, lethargy, or mask your child’s personality in any way. Should your teen decide to stop Brillia, there are no “coming off” side effects because the medication does not alter blood chemistry. 

Another unique aspect about Brillia is that it is part of a holistic approach. The effects of the medication are maximized by healthy lifestyle habits proven to reduce symptoms of ADHD:  proper nutrition, adequate sleep, controlled screen time, and mindfulness. Along with Brillia, these habits are referred to as the 5 Pillars, and they are designed to help your teen learn how to self-regulate while supported by Brillia.

When to Talk to Your Healthcare Provider

If you’re not sure your child has ADHD and want them to be officially diagnosed, ask your doctor for an ADHD symptoms test for peace of mind. If they suggest prescription medication, we encourage you to ask about the side effects associated with the medication and how long your child will be treated. 

If you choose to use Brillia, you do not need an official diagnosis from your doctor or a prescription. The medication can also be used in conjunction with prescription medication to clear up secondary side effects caused by stimulants, such as anxietyClinically proven to reduce symptoms associated with ADHD, Brillia is safe for children 5-18.

Find out  more about how Brillia works and explore more resources on managing symptoms of ADHD at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.

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References: 1https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adhd-symptoms-in-girls-and-boys, 2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20385342/, 3https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adhd-symptoms-in-girls-and-boys
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