3 types of ADHD and their symptoms

3 Types of ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is classified into the following 3 types, which include inattentive ADHD, hyperactive ADHD, and combined ADHD.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is classified broadly based on the symptoms that an individual exhibits and is divided into the following 3 types:

  1. Inattentive ADHD
    • The most common type of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with 40 to 55 percent of children falling into this category.
    • The primary symptoms are:
      • Daydreaming
      • Task-hopping
      • Easily distracted
      • Frequently forgetting important details
      • Careless errors (in studies and life)
      • Short attention spans
      • Disorganized
      • Cluttered and messy
      • Inattentive
      • Processing of information takes too long
      • Having difficulty following instructions
  2. Hyperactive ADHD or impulsive ADHD
    • Manifests in the following ways:
      • Difficulty sitting still
      • Inattentiveness
      • Incessant talking
      • Trouble doing quiet tasks (e.g., reading comprehension)
      • Touching everything
      • Running from place to place
      • Banging into people or objects (typically motor-driven actions)
      • Physically overactive
      • Interrupting conversations
      • Inpatient
      • Blurting comments when it is inappropriate to do so
      • Speaking out of turn
      • Trouble waiting for a turn or standing in a line
  3. Combined ADHD
    • Encompasses both types of ADHD.
      • The symptoms are often mixed, making the situation even more complicated.
      • When there is a lack of attention to audiovisual stimuli, as well as spontaneous physical activities; this is referred to as combined ADHD.
      • The symptoms multiply and so do the obstacles, particularly those related to learning and functioning within the confines of society.
      • Furthermore, a symptom could appear 24 hours a day or could be inconsistent, appearing only for a couple of hours.

Because everyone is unique, it is not uncommon for two people to experience ADHD in different ways.

Behaviors frequently differ between sexes, with males exhibiting high levels of obvious physical hyperactivity and females often appearing to be the opposite, quiet and inattentive due to mental hyperactivity, resulting in excessive daydreaming.

What are the causes of ADHD?

Individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have problems due to a short attention span, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

ADHD affects five to eight percent of school-age children and about two to four percent of adults. Children with ADHD frequently struggle at home, at school, and with other children.

ADHD is a complicated disorder with numerous potential causes, such as:

  • According to research, ADHD runs in families, which means there is a strong genetic component
  • Low birth weight
  • Smoking during pregnancy
  • Some severe illnesses in infancy
  • Poor parenting does not cause ADHD, but a child’s home environment can influence whether behaviors improve or worsen

Studies on ADHD have assisted in increasing the knowledge and understanding of what distinguishes the condition.

  • It is now well understood that the frontal lobe (specifically, the prefrontal cortex) in the ADHD brain develops or matures at a slower rate.
  • In general, maturation is slowed by three years in developing children and adolescents.

The functions of the frontal lobe include:

  • Filtering and controlling attention
  • Behavior
  • Emotion
  • Energy or motor control
  • Judgment
  • Executive functioning, which includes the ability to plan and organize

Because frontal lobe development is slower and less mature than typical development, the neurodevelopmental delay to the prefrontal cortex makes automatically controlling and filtering attention, behaviors, and emotions much more difficult.

ADHD brains must work much harder to control aspects that others of the same age do naturally, and this is the nature of the disordered part. Therefore, they are exhausted by the end of the school or workday.


What Are the Symptoms of ADHD in Kids? Tests, Medication See Slideshow

What are the treatment options for ADHD?

Though there is no magic cure for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it can be effectively treated in both children and adults often through a combination of:

  • Behavior therapy
  • Medication
  • Adjustments and support in work and school settings
  • Parental training and involvement (this is a part of the treatment for children, and it focuses on improving parent-child communication, teaching the child socially acceptable behavior, and rewarding them for good behavior)

Treatment plans are not the same for everyone, so it is critical to monitor, follow up, and adjust as needed.

2 therapies for ADHD

  1. Behavioral therapy and psychoeducation
    • To assist those with ADHD to better manage their emotions and behavior, behavioral therapy and psychoeducation are recommended.
    • A therapist can assist with executive functioning issues, such as time management, and work with the individual to develop new routines, to help them stay on track.
    • Therapy can focus on strategies to improve self-regulation and self-monitoring, so the patient is better equipped to deal with daily challenges at home, school and work, and in social situations.
  2. Cognitive-behavioral approach
    • Can effectively address a specific problematic behavior by assisting the individual to understand why they are doing it and how to change it.
    • Furthermore, social skills groups can be beneficial for children and teenagers with ADHD who frequently struggle with social interactions due to impulsivity.
    • Therapy usually occurs one time per week for 45 minutes at a time.

2 ADHD medications

Medication can be an important part of treatment for children aged six years and older, as well as adults. They work by increasing neurotransmitter levels in the brain to alleviate symptoms, such as inattention and hyperactivity.

Keep in mind that medication may not work for everyone or finding the right one may take some time.

  1. Stimulants
    • These are the most used ADHD medications, and they work by increasing focus and decreasing distractibility.
    • Stimulants increase brain chemicals, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which are necessary for message transmission between neurons.
    • In children, 70 to 80 percent of the time, symptoms improve within one to two hours of taking the medication.
    • Seventy percent of adults report noticeable improvement from stimulants within a few hours of taking the medication.
  2. Non-stimulants
    • Non-stimulant drugs may be an option if a stimulant drug is not well tolerated or does not relieve symptoms.
    • These medications are used to treat symptoms of impulsiveness and hyperactivity, emotional regulation, and insomnia.
    • They can take up to a week to fully kick in unlike fast-acting stimulants and may require some tinkering to find the right dose.

Adults with ADHD are frequently treated with medication, but psychological therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, may also be beneficial.

3 other treatment methods

Talk to the doctor about the following approaches:

  1. Meditation and mindfulness:
    • This type of training focuses on being present in the moment and assists those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to hone their attention and become more self-aware.
    • This can curb impulsive behavior and reduce the anxiety that is often associated with ADHD.
  2. Exercise:
    • Researchers believe that even 30 minutes of exercise per day can reduce the severity of ADHD symptoms and improve cognitive functioning, such as focus, attention, and memory.
  3. Diet:
    • A simple and nutritious diet is the best diet for ADHD. Consuming foods that reduce inflammation in the body may improve brain function.
    • This includes eating less white flour, sugar, and processed foods and eating more fruits and vegetables and omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods, such as salmon or tuna.
    • According to research, foods high in omega-3s help ADHD brains function better, reduce hyperactivity and improve the ability to focus and pay attention.

ADHD can lead to serious emotional, social, and educational issues.

Although some children appear to grow out of ADHD as they enter their adolescent years, the disorder remains a lifelong issue for others. Most children with ADHD learn to cope with their disorder effectively as they grow older with the help of timely and targeted interventions.

When ADHD is diagnosed and treated early, it is possible to effectively manage the condition, allowing children with ADHD to grow up to lead productive, successful, and fulfilling lives.


The abbreviated term ADHD denotes the condition commonly known as: See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 1/13/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Understood. The 3 types of ADHD. https://www.understood.org/articles/en/the-3-types-of-adhd

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is ADHD? https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html

American Psychiatric Association. What Is ADHD? https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/adhd/what-is-adhd

Learning Disabilities Association of America. ADHD. https://ldaamerica.org/disabilities/adhd/