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Types of ADHD

What are the types of ADHD?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is commonly categorized into three types:

  1. Predominantly Inattention: People with this type of ADHD have difficulty paying attention, following through on tasks, or listening to instructions, though they’re not very hyperactive or impulsive. This type is sometimes referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD).
  2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive: People with this type display more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness than inattention. They may be restless, fidget a lot, interrupt others, and have trouble waiting their turn.
  3. Combination: This is the most common type of ADHD. People with this type of display both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. They have difficulty paying attention, are restless, and often act without thinking.

Presentations can change over time. The same person might experience different types throughout their life. It’s also important to note that not everyone with ADHD fits neatly into these categories, and each individual may experience a unique combination of symptoms.

The Predominantly Inattentive Presentation of ADHD, formerly known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), is characterized by symptoms primarily related to inattention or a significant difficulty in focusing and maintaining attention. It is more common in girls. These symptoms can manifest in various ways, and may include the following:

  1. Difficulty paying attention to details: This might show up in school or work as making careless mistakes, overlooking details, or producing work that appears messy or careless. Difficulty following directions and learning new tasks.
  2. Difficulty sustaining attention: People with this presentation of ADHD may have trouble maintaining focus on tasks, conversations, or readings. They may appear not to be listening, may start tasks enthusiastically but quickly lose focus or become easily bored. They may appear to be day dreaming and move slowly.
  3. Easily distracted: Individuals may find that unrelated thoughts intrude on their attention, making it hard for them to stay focused on the current task. They might also be easily distracted by external stimuli, such as noises, movement, or events happening around them.
  4. Difficulty following through on tasks: This includes difficulty in completing homework assignments, chores, or duties in the workplace. This is not due to an outright refusal or failure to understand instructions, but rather a difficulty in organizing tasks and maintaining the focus required to complete them.
  5. Forgetfulness: People with this type of ADHD might frequently forget to do daily activities, such as forgetting to do chores, forgetting to return phone calls, or forgetting to pay bills.
  6. Avoidance of tasks requiring sustained mental effort: This could include schoolwork, preparing reports, completing forms, or reviewing lengthy papers. Poor study skills. They may avoid or feel overly taxed by tasks that require a sustained mental effort.
  7. Difficulty with organization: This may manifest in both physical and time management aspects. They might have messy work and living areas, struggle with keeping track of belongings, or have trouble managing their time effectively.

These symptoms have to be persistent, usually observed before the age of 12, and must interfere with or reduce the quality of social, academic, or occupational functioning.

This type is characterized by symptoms primarily related to hyperactivity and impulsivity such as:

  1. Fidgeting and Squirming: People with this type of ADHD often feel the need to move constantly. They may have trouble sitting still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings.
  2. Non-stop Talking: They may talk excessively and have difficulty being quiet in appropriate situations.
  3. Impatience: Waiting in line or waiting their turn in games or group situations can be especially difficult.
  4. Difficulty with Quiet Activities: Individuals may struggle to engage in activities quietly or to do tasks that require quiet focus and patience.
  5. Interrupting: This could involve intruding on others’ conversations, games, or activities, or speaking before a question has been completed.
  6. Restlessness: In adults, this may manifest as a feeling of being constantly “on the go” or as an inability to be still or content.
  7. Acting Without Thinking: These impulsive behaviors may lead to accidents or engaging in risky activities without considering the consequences.
  8. Difficulty Waiting Their Turn: They may have trouble waiting for their turn during an activity or when playing games.

These symptoms need to be chronic or long-lasting, impair the person’s functioning, and cause the person to fall behind normal development for his or her age.

The Combined Presentation of ADHD is characterized by symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. This is the most common type of ADHD. Individuals with Combined Presentation ADHD may exhibit a significant number of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms.

It is important to note that the symptoms must be present for at least six months and are inappropriate for the person’s developmental level. Symptoms also must be present before age 12, occur in at least two settings (such as at home, school, or work), and cause significant impairment.

ADHD is typically diagnosed in childhood, but sometimes, the condition isn’t recognized until adulthood. In these cases, ADHD may manifest a bit differently and may involve mood swings, have become easily frustrated and have difficulty dealing with stress.

When you or a loved one exhibits symptoms of ADHD, it is important to receive a thorough evaluation. At Greenwich Village Psychiatry we specialize in providing an accurate diagnosis and a range of treatment options.

At a Glance

Dr. Paul Poulakos

  • Attending Psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center
  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Past Clinical Assistant Professor of NYU Langone Medical Center
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