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Types of ADHD

3 types of adhd

Identifying the Three Types of ADHD

Do you feel like you have always struggled to stay focused for extended periods of time? Have you always been full of energy, never able to sit still without wanting to tap or fidget or move? Have you always felt like your brain was leaping from topic to topic, never settling into one specific area of thought for very long before moving on to the next thing? Do you often get distracted when something new happens, forgetting about whatever was happening before that, even if it was important? Do you often find that you can’t fight your impulses the way you see other people do?

When you were a kid in school, you might have had teachers who noted that you always seemed to be full of energy, constantly wanting to talk, and possibly even distracting your classmates and yourself from finishing assignments. Nowadays, in a job, you might struggle to keep track of all of the tasks you have to complete in a given week, or you may have developed a specific system to prevent things from falling through the cracks like they would have when you were younger. You may even have coworkers who are envious of your seemingly never-ending amount of energy

If this sounds like you, you might have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. ADHD makes it difficult for people to focus on tasks that they do not find interesting and often causes people to struggle with impulse control.

If you think you might have ADHD, you’re not alone. As of 2011, 12.8% of children in Ohio had been diagnosed with ADHD at some point. By now, more than 10 years later, many of those children with ADHD have grown up to be adults with ADHD. The majority of people who have ADHD in childhood continue to have ADHD as an adult. According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), 4.4% of American adults ages 18-44 had been diagnosed with ADHD at the time of their survey (2001-2003).

Discovering you have ADHD as an adult can be an intense experience. You may suddenly feel like so many things about your experiences up to this point suddenly make sense. You might also feel frustration and sadness for the younger you who didn’t get the help they needed to live their best, most successful life. These feelings are all completely normal, and doing research like this is a great first step to getting the proper diagnosis. One of the important things to learn about ADHD is how to identify the three main types of ADHD.

What Is ADHD?

ADHD is a fairly common neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts the way a person’s brain works and processes information. In many cases, ADHD is noticed and diagnosed in childhood. However, it is not uncommon for adults to be diagnosed with ADHD later in life. ADHD has no “cure,” and it does not typically go away over time, although it can be managed, often using a combination of lifestyle changes, skills training, and medication.

There is no single test for ADHD. Typically, clinical professionals look for signs of ADHD, like hyperactivity and difficulty focusing on tasks, and then rule out other potential causes, like anxiety disorders or hearing loss, which may make someone appear to be unfocused. An ADHD diagnosis can be made at any point from the young age of 2 or 3 to well into adulthood.

Some common signs of ADHD include:

  • Talking a lot
  • Moving a lot
  • Struggling to finish tasks
  • Making careless mistakes or taking unnecessary risks
  • Having trouble taking turns
  • Having difficulty getting along with others
  • Having a hard time resisting temptation
  • Putting off starting tasks
  • Paying very little attention to detail
  • Becoming extremely focused on things they find interesting
  • Having trouble thinking things through
  • Daydreaming a lot
  • Forgetting or losing things a lot

Who Does ADHD Affect?

ADHD can affect anyone. ADHD can show up differently in men and women, but it is more commonly diagnosed in men. For every woman diagnosed with ADHD, there are roughly 1.6 men diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD happens across racial, ethnic, and cultural lines as well.
There are some factors that may put people at greater risk of developing ADHD, including:

  • Genetics (inborn traits)
  • Certain toxins
  • Brain damage
  • Maternal smoking or exposure to smoking before birth
  • Maternal alcohol use during pregnancy
  • Environmental factors

ADHD is not the result of any one parenting style. If your child has ADHD, it is not your fault, and if you have ADHD, there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. Often, there are a number of factors that all contribute to a person having ADHD.

ADHD is a medical condition, and it is not caused by things like watching TV or playing video games.

What Does ADHD Look Like in Adults?

Often, when we think of ADHD, we think of how it presents in children because that is when it is most commonly diagnosed. Often, ADHD behaviors are discussed in terms of a classroom setting, like sitting still for lessons or struggling to complete homework assignments on time. Many adults with undiagnosed ADHD may have experienced similar symptoms during their childhood. They may see similar problems come up in their work environment.

Adult ADHD can result in:

  • Work problems
    • Poor performance
    • Reduced attendance
    • Greater likelihood of unemployment
    • Increased interpersonal conflict
  • Traffic accidents and violations are more frequent in drivers with ADHD
  • Being seen by others as lazy, irresponsible, or uncooperative
  • Depression from struggling with untreated ADHD
  • Anxiety from struggling with untreated ADHD

Inattentive Type ADHD

Inattentive type ADHD is what it sounds like. People with inattentive type ADHD primarily struggle with paying attention and focusing for extended periods of time. They may occasionally struggle with hyperactivity and impulsivity issues, but for the most part, that is not how people with inattentive type ADHD experience their disorder. They may find they need constant breaks when completing tasks, or they start projects they can never seem to finish.

While people without ADHD may experience inattentiveness at times, people who have ADHD would feel this way on a regular basis. It may interfere with work or other commitments. While people with inattentive type ADHD may struggle with focusing on a lot of tasks, they also sometimes experience what are known as hyperfixations, where they get extremely focused on a specific activity or interest for a certain period of time. However, this interest typically fades after a few weeks, and they may move on to another interest.

Common symptoms of inattentive type ADHD include:

  • Avoiding tasks that require long periods of mental focus (preparing reports, filling out forms)
  • Often losing items needed to complete tasks or activities
  • Not appearing to be listening even when spoken to directly
  • Often having trouble staying focused on tasks at work, home, or when out in the world
  • Frequently not paying close attention to details or making careless mistakes at work or while doing other tasks
  • Often having trouble organizing tasks or activities (missing deadlines, disorganized work)
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Frequently not following through on instructions or failing to complete work assignments, chores, or other activities
  • Often forgetting to do routine chores (like paying bills, returning phone calls, keeping appointments)

Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD

People with hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD may not have as much trouble focusing on tasks as people with inattentive type ADHD. They may still experience some inattentive tendencies, but for the most part, they struggle with impulse control and wanting to constantly be on the move. People with hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD may really struggle to sit still without moving or doing some kind of physical activity. They may also be really chatty, wanting to talk rather than do their work. A big part of this type of ADHD is struggling with impulse control. They may have great difficulty fighting their impulses and may struggle to connect how their actions in the moment are connected to the consequences that happen to them later as a result.

Common symptoms of hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD include:

  • Being impatient
  • Acting out of turn and not thinking about consequences of actions
  • Blurting out answers and inappropriate comments
  • Squirming, fidgeting, or feeling restless
  • Having difficulty sitting still
  • Talking constantly
  • Touching and playing with objects, even when inappropriate to the task at hand
  • Having trouble engaging in quiet activities
  • Being constantly “on the go”

Combined Type ADHD

People who have combined type ADHD typically struggle with most of the symptoms associated with both of the previously discussed forms of ADHD. This means that they struggle to focus on tasks and may appear not to pay attention, while also struggling to sit still and control their impulses.

Most people with an ADHD diagnosis suffer from combined type ADHD. However, the way that a person experiences ADHD can shift and change over time. This means that the type of ADHD a person has can change over time. People who struggle with ADHD may need additional support in work and classroom settings.

People with ADHD can improve their quality of life and ability to focus, even with combined type ADHD. Treatment often is a combination of behavioral therapy, life skill development, and medication.

Treatment at SUN Behavioral Columbus

If you believe that you or someone you love is suffering from ADHD, you may benefit from our mental health treatment services.

At SUN Behavioral Columbus, our adult outpatient behavioral services include two vital programs: a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (IOP).

PHP includes five group therapy sessions per day, five days per week. PHP groups use a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach. PHP offers coping skills training and a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), which is an evidence-based system to help people understand and apply wellness techniques for the purpose of relapse prevention.

IOP includes three group sessions per day, five days per week. Key components of the IOP include stress management, life skills development, mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and yoga and physical wellness strategies. These treatment approaches will help you or your loved one gain new skills to better cope with ADHD.

In either of these programs, you will learn more about your condition and skills you can use to cope with the way your brain works. Sometimes, but not always, medication is included in a treatment plan for ADHD. Typical medications include the brand names Adderall®, Ritalin®, Vyvanse®, and Concerta®, all forms of dexmethylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, lisdexamfetamine, or methylphenidate. It may sound unhelpful to give a stimulant to someone with ADHD, but the medication improves their ability to focus.

ADHD medication is not always the best approach. At SUN Behavioral, stimulants are given at the lowest dose (which may increase with time), or another medication that may work better is used, as seen with time.

Call SUN Behavioral Columbus Now

Do you or someone you love show signs of one of the three types of ADHD? If you do, it’s never too late to get help. Call us now at (614) 706-2786 to start the process of overcoming ADHD.


Are there three or seven types of ADHD?

Most medical professionals consider there to be three primary types of ADHD, including inattentive type ADHD, hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD, and combined type ADHD.

What are the four types of ADHD?

Most medical professionals consider there to be three main types of ADHD. Those types are inattentive type ADHD, hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, and combined type ADHD.

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