What Are the Types of ADHD?

Currently, research has identified three different types of ADHD – each of which comes with its own characteristics and symptoms.

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While attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is known to primarily affect children, it can also effect adults. Most symptoms of ADHD are characterized by having an impact on one’s ability to learn new information, conduct, and emotions.

Currently, research has been able to identify three different types of ADHD. These are:

  • Inattentive Type
  • Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
  • Combination Type

These types of ADHD are diagnosed depending on the symptoms a person experiences. Since symptoms can change over the course of one’s life, the type of ADHD can also change. ¹

Throughout this article, we’re going to take a deeper look into the three types of ADHD while providing information on medical treatment. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.

Inattentive ADHD

If you struggle with inattentive ADHD, you most likely experience symptoms that leave you feeling distracted or preoccupied. While you can sometimes experience impulsive behavior and/or hyperactivity, these aren’t the dominant traits to your condition. ²

People who struggle with inattentive ADHD often reveal the following behavior:

  • Body and brain movements are slower (may appear to be daydreaming)
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Difficulty learning new information
  • Difficulty processing information (slower and less accurate than others)
  • Difficulty with thought organization
  • Inability to focus on a single task
  • Inability to listen
  • Lack of attention to details, easily distracted
  • Often loses material necessary to complete a task
  • Prone to boredom quickly and easily

It’s more likely that girls will be diagnosed with inattentive type ADHD in comparison to boys. However, this type can appear in both genders of all ages.

In terms of treatment, the best course of action for inattentive type ADHD is behavioral therapy (sometimes referred to as behavioral intervention). The purpose of this therapy is to help you learn how to function in organization places, such as school and work. ³

Some things you’ll learn in behavioral therapy include:

  • Developing a behavior chart that will reward you for good behavior
  • Developing a routine and sticking to it
  • Disengaging with electronic devices (i.e. television, smart phone) when doing work
  • Taking in information that’s brief and clear

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD

If you struggle with the hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD, you most likely have symptoms of uncontrollable over-activity and compulsiveness. While you may struggle with inattention from time to time, it’s not the dominant aspect of your ADHD.

People who struggle with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD often reveal the following behavior:

  • Act out of turn (don’t consider potential consequences to actions)
  • Constantly moving
  • Constantly talking
  • Difficulty taking part in quiet activities
  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Impatience
  • Inability to hold back answers or inappropriate comments
  • Restlessness (may appear as fidgeting or squirming)
  • Touching objects, even when inappropriate to a specific task

The hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD is most often observed in the classroom. Children with this type often cause disruption, making education more arduous for them and other students.

Combination ADHD

If you struggle with combination type ADHD, then your symptoms are a concoction of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive types.

It’s important to note that these symptoms aren’t necessarily unique to ADHD. It’s likely each of us experiences inattention and hyperactivity from time to time. People with ADHD will experience these symptoms to a more severe extent. So much so, it will inhibit their day-to-day functions in home, school, work, and social situations.

A combination type of ADHD is most common in children. More particularly, in children of the preschool-age. ⁴ If you have a child who you believe to be experiencing ADHD, understand that with the right kind of treatment, s/he can go on to live a fulfilling life.

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

Diagnosing someone with ADHD isn’t an easy task for medical professionals. The main reason is ADHD symptoms are similar to symptoms of other mental disorders. In an effort not to confuse ADHD with other conditions, a mental health professional may try to rule out illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

However, one prominent trait mental health professionals will keep an eye out for is when symptoms started. The majority of children with ADHD will show symptoms before the age of 7.

Traditionally, medical professionals will use the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) in order to decide whether a child or adult struggles with ADHD. To meet the criteria of DSM-5, one must possess at least six symptoms of either inattention or hyperactive-impulsivity. Furthermore, these symptoms must be present in one’s life for at least six months.

Not to mention, in order to be diagnosed with ADHD, a person must show symptoms before the age of 12. While adults can have and develops ADHD, these cases are so rare, mental health professionals usually seek out other conditions first.

While an initial diagnosis may show a specific type of ADHD, symptoms have the ability to change over time. With that said, a person may need to be reevaluated if their symptoms go from one type of ADHD to another.

What Does Treatment for ADHD Look Like?

Once you’re diagnosed with ADHD, your doctor will inform you of a number of treatment options. The purpose of treatment is to help you cope with ADHD symptoms while encouraging healthy and positive behavior.

ADHD treatment usually appears in two specific ways:

  • Therapy – Before a doctor suggests medication, s/he will most likely suggest a form of therapy that s/he feels is appropriate for the type of ADHD you struggle with. There are a range of therapies s/he may recommend, each of which is designed to tackle specific problems with your condition.

    As mentioned, behavioral therapy is one of the most common for ADHD, especially in children. There are also therapy sessions for parents to gain a better understanding of how to manage their child’s behavior. ⁵
  • Medication – A doctor may also suggest medication for you, depending on how severe your ADHD symptoms are. The most common form of medication for ADHD are stimulants – these work quickly within the brain and between 70 to 80% of children who take stimulants show a decrease in symptoms. ⁶

    You may also be recommended non-stimulants – however, these haven’t shown nearly as much success. The only positive to non-stimulants is the fact that they last up to 24 hours.

It’s important to mention that medication prescribed to individuals with ADHD can be addictive. For this reason, we at Bedlamite suggest medication only when therapy isn’t helping to reduce symptoms.

Final Word

While ADHD is a lifelong condition, the majority of children who struggle with it don’t have any significant symptoms once they reach their mid-20s. In order to prepare your child for the best adulthood, it’s vital you offer him/her the proper treatment for this mental illness.

By learning to manage ADHD, a child has a much better chance at not only overcoming symptoms, but prospering in life.

Your Questions

Still have questions about the types of ADHD?

We invite you to ask them in the comment’s section below. If you have any further information on the topic – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.

Reference Sources

¹ Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Symptoms and Diagnosis of ADHD

² Cleveland Clinic: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, Inattentive Type in Adults

³ U.S. Department of Education: Identifying and Treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Resource for School and Home

⁴ National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

⁵ Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Parent Training

⁶ Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Treatment

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