Living with ADHD: how this condition affects today's youth - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Living with ADHD: how this condition affects today's youth

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BILLINGS, MT - Most of us have heard about it: ADHD. According to the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health, more than 6 million children and adolescents have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Melissa Scavelli took at a look at why doctors say the number is rising and the struggles of living with the condition.

Riley Miano is one of millions living with ADHD.

''It feels like something's going around in my brain," Riley said. "I keep going and I can't stop.''

She may be what many people think of when they think of ADHD, but it turns out... the most common is hyperactive impulsive type, but doctors also identify people with ADHD who are inattentive or have a combination of qualities.

But being hyperactive or inattentive doesn't mean a person has ADHD.

"There might be a learning disability," said Dr. Eric Arzubi, Dept. Chair of Psychiatry at Billings Clinic. "It turns out fifty percent of kids with ADHD can also be diagnosed with a learning disability, so we want to be very careful and not jump to conclusions going 'that child needs medication.' "

Typically, doctors look for problems at school and at home before making a diagnosis. This is because...

"We're really trying to push our kids to do something that may not always be very natural and that is sit still for eight hours, be good at everything, and if you're not there's a problem," Dr. Arzubi said.

Nearly two-thirds of children with ADHD also have one other mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. Dr. Arzubi says he's seeing many female teens being diagnosed with inattentive ADHD.

"ADHD in girls tends to be more the inattentive type rather than hyperactive impulsive type, so as a result girls can often be diagnosed later," explained Dr. Arzubi.

He says it's not that their ADHD just pops up; but, it's been missed for many years.

"As the school years progress and you need more and different skills to do well in school, it starts to show more and more and more, so as a result it hurts self-esteem as school functioning and grades start to go down," he described. "Hurts self-esteem, creates more stress... these kids feel more overwhelmed because all of this information is coming at them - they struggle to kind of organize it."

Psychiatrists and school counselors tell us they agree that while there isn't a direct link between ADHD and social media, the amount of time teens spend looking down at their phones isn't helping.

"That being a constant and a constant distraction, and trying to keep up and trying to fit in and trying to follow who's doing what has to be a major influence on taking their focus away from what's supposed to be happening in the educational settings," said Beth Tocci, a school counselor.

If ADHD goes undiagnosed, things can go downhill.

"Making impulsive decisions as a 7-year-old versus a 17-year-old, the consequences can be very different; but if you treat ADHD properly, you are less likely to get yourself into trouble with impulsive decision-making then if you're not treating the ADHD... and that includes later on the use of drugs and alcohol and so forth," said Dr. Arzubi.

But ADHD can be managed using medications, special diets, and behavioral therapy.

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