ADHD Types

The Three ADHD Types

Several people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may experience the neurodivergent condition differently. That’s because there are several types of ADHD. Learn more about the Types of ADHD here.

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Categories of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a complex neurodivergent condition that can affect a person's ability to perform daily tasks, deal with school or work environments, and behave in certain situations. These difficulties or struggles can lead to judgment from other people😭, although one must take note that the number of symptoms and their intensities vary from one person to another. 

When Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder was first discussed in the early 1900s, not much was known about it. But now, we know more. 

We understand that it is a disorder with behavioral symptoms, so it is NOT an attitude problem. With studies, experts also discovered that this neurodivergent condition might have something to do with the brain structure: there seems to be differences between the brains of those diagnosed with ADHD and neurotypicals🧠. 

In other words, a lot has been learned in the past century. Discoveries ranging from how it can affect a child's behavior to how it can cause issues in adults. Of course, studies have also paved the way to discover other common symptoms. 

You see, experts first believed that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can only affect children who are inattentive and easily distracted. 🧒Now, we’re aware that mental health experts can categorize ADHD into three types based on the predominant symptoms. 

Attention Deficit Disorder: With and Without Hyperactivity

Earlier versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders first used the term Attention Deficit Disorder With Or Without Hyperactivity as their focus was on the patient’s (mostly kids’) inability to control their behavior. As experts then didn’t think that hyperactivity is a common symptom, they just made the subtypes: with or without hyperactivity. 

But the American Psychiatric Association soon realized that hyperactivity is indeed a common symptom. Hence, the third edition of the DSM included hyperactivity as a symptom, along with inattention and impulsivity. So, they renamed ADD into what we now know as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. At this point, however, the three types were still absent. 

They were only established in the 4th Edition of the DSM. At this point, when a qualified mental health professional 👩‍⚕️ diagnoses someone with ADHD, they must also identify the type of ADHD the person has. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose ADHD accurately, the child or adult must meet several criteria depending, of course, on the type they are under. 

Types of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD is a complex condition, hence, it can sometimes be challenging to diagnose it. For instance, some people I know have struggled with something I do not have any problem with, but both of us received an ADHD diagnosis. 

So, it’s highly possible that I need to work on my emotional regulation because I have difficulties managing my reactions to specific events, but someone I know of can handle her feelings like a champ 💪! The kicker is, we both have ADHD! This just goes to show that ADHD experiences vary from one person to another. 

That is where types of ADHD come into the picture. The ADHD symptoms we experience can be different from others. A mental health professional will carefully assess the symptoms present to determine which type or types of ADHD a person may have. And after a rigorous evaluation, you can be ADHD diagnosed based on these Three ADHD Types:

1. Predominantly Inattentive Type

2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

3. Combined Type

The importance of knowing how the symptoms and traits of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can present themselves in different ways can be beneficial for many reasons. It can help parents, teachers, and mental health professionals better understand your experience with ADHD. You can also discuss the course of managing and treating ADHD with your physician and what you can possibly do to make living with ADHD more manageable for you 😉.

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation

According to the DSM-V, the majority of people with the hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD tend to have the urge to be constantly on the go, have struggles in controlling impulses, or make decisions rashly. Many children with this ADHD type may show as someone who has difficulty sitting for too long, is a bit fidgety, and has difficulty waiting for their turn to do something. The same goes with adult ADHD, but the symptoms are more defined as hyperactivity-impulsivity behaviors.

Hyperactive Symptoms 

  • Fidgeting, squirming on the seat, tapping hands or feet
  • Often leaves the seat when they are expected to assume seating position to
  • The feeling of restlessness, like climbing something, or pacing back and forth
  • Have the tendency not do things quietly
  • Feeling constantly on the go and having other people feel challenging to keep up with
  • Hyperactive behavior like talking excessively

Impulsive Symptoms

  • Impulse control difficulty and blurting out answers even if questions aren't directed to them
  • Does not feel like waiting for long periods 
  • Interrupting conversation and the need almost always to tell something that isn't necessary

To be diagnosed with this type of ADHD, a child up to the age of 16 must have at least 6 symptoms. People 17 and up must have at least 5 symptoms. Note that these symptoms must be present for at least 6 months and they must be disruptive or at least not appropriate for the person’s developmental level. 

If you satisfy this criteria, the mental health expert might categorize you under Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type. 

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Predominantly Inattentive Type ADHD Presentation

Those on the side of the inattentive type ADHD tend to have difficulty organizing and finishing tasks, following instructions, and paying attention to detail. They may also be easily distracted or daydream often. Children with this type of ADHD may be tagged as the "daydreamer" in class or someone who has trouble staying focused, but there is more than just that when it comes to Predominantly Inattentive Presentation.

Predominantly Inattentive ADHD Symptoms

  • Trouble paying attention to details and often makes careless mistakes
  • Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or conversation
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken directly or gets distracted easily
  • Usually start tasks eagerly but have a hard time finishing them off or have struggles following instructions
  • Difficulty organizing tasks, activities, thoughts, or schedule
  • Dislikes doing things or activities that require sustained mental effort or getting reluctant to do paperwork or school-related work
  • Forgetting and misplacing important things frequently
  • Distracted with external stimuli or sensory overload
  • Generally forgetful in managing tasks and activities like home organization, errands, and meeting deadlines

As per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, children up to the age of 16 must have 6 or more symptoms and continuously persist for 6 months for someone to be diagnosed with Inattentive ADHD. People aged 17 and up must have at least 5 symptoms, again, for at least 6 months. 

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation symptoms should also interfere with or create difficulties in social, academic, or work life. It's essential to understand that people with this type of ADHD might not show any hyperactive and impulsive behaviors as they are only on the inattentive side.

Additional Criteria: 

Besides the set criteria, other things needed to be diagnosed with a specific type of ADHD include:

  • The symptoms are present before the age of twelve. 
  • The symptoms are happening in two or more settings (home, school, work, etc.)
  • There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with the person’s development or quality of life. 
  • The symptoms are NOT better explained by another type of mental health disorder. However, please note that ADHD can coexist with other mental health conditions. 

Combined Presentation ADHD Type

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can have too many significant symptoms that a person can experience. Those commonly diagnosed with impulsive/hyperactive and inattentive combination type ADHD can struggle to sustain attention and focus and have difficulty listening and following instructions. They may also be easily distracted, jump from task to task, or have trouble controlling impulsive behavior🥺.

When a person experiences enough hyperactive-impulsive symptoms and inattentive ADHD traits, they may be diagnosed with Combined Presentation ADHD. According to statistics from the American Psychiatric Association, this type of ADHD is the most common presentation and principal diagnosis among children and adults.

Diagnosing Types of ADHD

As stated above, diagnosing ADHD type depends on your experience with the symptoms of ADHD. Aside from the past six months' experiences, your age can also be a factor in being diagnosed with ADHD. 

Your mental health professional may also conduct psychological testing or hold questionnaires and interviews📝, which can further help assess if you display symptoms of ADHD. Other doctors may ask for a detailed history of medical conditions on your other family members as ADHD can run in families and have a genetic origin.

After knowing your Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) presentation, it would be easier to understand how this condition can impact your daily functioning. A clinical psychologist, or your mental health doctor, can recommend a proper treatment plan and management for your specific diagnosis. Behavior therapy, medication💊 , and lifestyle changes are some of the interventions that can help people with ADHD.

always remember that ADHD is complex


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex neurodivergent condition as it can present itself differently. It's essential to be correctly diagnosed by a professional to know what type of ADHD you have and to get the appropriate treatment. Whether you have Hyperactive ADHD, Inattentive ADHD, or Combined Type ADHD, the symptoms can be mild to severe and can impact your life in many ways.

Although there is no cure for this condition, with early intervention, proper management, and lifestyle changes, people with ADHD can still live happy and fulfilling lives. You don't have to treat ADHD as a disability or a disease that can hamper your success. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may display symptoms that can make everyday tasks more challenging, but nothing is impossible with the right mindset and support😘.

ADHD Types

ADHD Types: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are the three types of ADHD?

The three types of ADHD are Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive, Predominantly Inattentive, and Combined.‍

What is the most common type of ADHD?

The most common type is the Combined Type, where the person has both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive symptoms.‍

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