Inattentive ADHD Symptoms

Key Symptoms of Inattentive ADHD

Inattentive ADHD is characterized by symptoms that go beyond the well-known hyperactivity and impulsivity. Key indicators include difficulty sustaining attention, poor organizational skills, a tendency to be easily distracted, forgetfulness in daily activities, and frequent daydreaming. Unlike the hyperactive/impulsive type, inattentive ADHD often presents as a quieter, less disruptive behavior, making it less obvious but equally impactful on a person's daily life. Recognizing these symptoms is crucial for understanding and managing this subtype of ADHD.

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Written by

Tayler Hackett

Mental Health Writer and ADHD Expert
In this Article
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Let's Talk About Inattentive ADHD Symptoms

There are lots of topics to discuss when it comes to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Now that there are different media outlets and extensive efforts to raise awareness regarding ADHD diagnosis, people are more willing to openly talk about their experiences and struggles with this neurodivergent disorder.👌

But even so, some topics are still less discussed as they are often overlooked. Subjects like ADHD misconceptions, comorbidities, and medications are less talked about to avoid further debate about which is true or more severe or superior to what. For instance, some say that ADHD without "hyperactivity" is not Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at all😨! That's why other people might not be aware of the Predominantly Inattentive Type or Inattentive ADHD.

Diagnosing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Each of us has a different ADHD diagnosis story. How do you know if you have ADHD? 

My story began when I noticed that I often struggle with things most people don’t sweat about. I often have difficulties sustaining interest in something, such as a hobby and the career path I should take. I even had trouble organizing tasks, like preparing reports for school📚. Likewise, being forgetful has always been my issue: sometimes, I cannot function well because I spend too much time looking for things I forgot or misplaced.

When these events affected my life so much that I got confused about what I was going through, and the struggles started affecting my relationships with other people, I knew I had to come up with solutions. I researched a bit about mental health, talked with my mental health professional, and finally had an ADHD diagnosis.

First, my healthcare provider 👩‍⚕️  let me complete tasks related to the diagnosis, such as answering a few questionnaires. Then, we talked about my past experiences. After the assessment, my doctor reviewed the diagnostic criteria and explained everything I needed to know about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There are nine symptoms of inattention and nine symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity, and a person should meet five or more ADHD symptoms before getting an ADHD diagnosis.

I was diagnosed with a Combined ADHD Type, where both hyperactivity and inattentive symptoms exist. After my ADHD diagnosis, I had a mixed reaction of feeling scared, happy, and relieved simultaneously. Then, my clinical psychologist informed me more about my neurodivergent condition and how to manage it.

Focusing More on Inattentive ADHD

When I discovered that I also tend to exhibit the symptoms under Inattentive Type ADHD, I realized that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) doesn't just present as being energetic all the time or being extremely physically restless🤔. Difficulty sustaining attention can also be a manifestation of ADHD, and this is something that people may overlook.

What does inattentive ADHD Look like?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the common symptoms of Inattentive Type are the following:

  1. Often makes careless mistakes
  2. Difficulty sustaining attention
  3. Does not seem to listen when in a conversation
  4. Difficulty following instructions
  5. Struggles in organization
  6. Does not prefer tasks that require sustained mental effort
  7. Loses things frequently
  8. Gets easily distracted and has trouble paying attention
  9. Being forgetful which can affect daily functioning

Only healthcare professionals can hand you an ADHD diagnosis. Note, however, that  some people may also exhibit hyperactivity while having Predominantly Inattentive Symptoms of ADHD.

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Most Common Inattention Symptoms

Since there are several ADHD Inattentive-Type symptoms that you can experience,remember that some traits may be more common than others. I compiled a list of the inattention symptoms that I frequently struggle with.

Zoning Out During Conversations

My friends and colleagues often get mad at me, and I can't blame them. When we are talking about serious matters, and they want to get my input, more often than not, I'll have them repeat what they have just said a few minutes back. Why? Because it is only when they start getting my attention for a response that I get back to the reality that I was talking with them.

ADHD and Zoning Out

You see, when I am “trapped” within an uninteresting conversation, I cannot help but zone out and think of other stuff🥺. Having this inattentive ADHD symptom is quite a struggle. My ADHD brain's state of being easily distracted can make the other person feel bad and think that I don't value anything they say at all.

Making Frequent Mistakes

As the saying goes: "To err is human." I know neurotypicals also make errors and misjudgment, but for many people with ADHD, making mistakes can be a frequent occurrence. How we process information tends to affect our decisions and judgment, leading to more errors.

Making Mistakes all the time

And when we tend to make plenty of mistakes, we'll most likely feel bad about ourselves, possibly leading to a comorbid anxiety disorder that can further worsen our thinking and functioning😭. So, to ensure that we limit careless mistakes, we'll try to mask more of this inattentive ADHD symptom and spend plenty of effort to avoid making errors.

Struggling with Organization

Have you noticed that this blog sometimes talks about different things? As my mind can have a lot of input and ideas at a time, the organization of my thoughts is not as linear as other people’s. Maintaining a clear organization can be a struggle for me. This can also contribute to my struggle when it comes to home organization and chores.

ADHD Trait of struggling with organization

An inattentive ADHD person can have a chaotic space. I am guilty of having one. There's a specific chair in my room that you cannot sit on because I place my fresh clothes 👚 on it. I also tend to put some used clothes a few inches from that chair, and sometimes they mix together😅. The cluttered space in my room can be stressful, but due to my tight schedule and difficulty in organizing my thoughts (and my things), my place can really be “messy.”

Avoiding Difficult Tasks

If a particular activity takes too long to finish or involves a complicated process, don't sign me up for it. 😵 An inattentive ADHD person might struggle with these tasks possibly causing even more delay. Intricate processes like waiting in line, doing things step-by-step, and other time-consuming tasks can be challenging for some of us.

Avoiding difficult tasks

When I have no choice but to do these difficult things, my mental health and patience are tested. Sometimes, I can do them. But, often, I’ll find ways to procrastinate or avoid doing it. If a deadline is set for me to pay bills or settle taxes, expect me to do them hours before the due date. I know there are practical solutions to this, but then I keep forgetting them😭.

Losing Or Misplacing Things

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can affect our working memory and the executive functions that are essential in our daily lives. According to a study featured in the American Psychological Association, the short-term memory of a person with ADHD can be impaired, resulting in forgetting things that were just said or losing track of where they put something.

Losing or misplacing things

Here's a fun fact about me: I have three pairs of eyeglasses. Even though I only have two eyes to use them with, I managed to buy three extra sets because of my hyperactivity-impulsivity and forgetfulness. I lost my first eyeglass and asked for help from my other family members, but when we could not find it, I had to buy another one. While cleaning my fridge, I saw it behind the vegetable drawer! I got the other one when I forgot to bring my glasses to a long trip I had for vacation. My forgetfulness can sometimes have consequences, but I learned to manage them by creating a system that would work for me.

How to Manage Inattentive ADHD

First, I want to tell you that ADHD is not a disease, control, or choice💪. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can be diagnosed and can be treated. We can turn these ADHD symptoms into positive behaviors or at least manage them in different ways. Also, I want you to know that ADHD doesn't define you regardless of whether you have a predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation, ADHD inattentive type, or both.

There are different ways to manage inattentive ADHD, but treatment options vary from person to person depending on their mental health conditions😉. Generally, you should ask your healthcare provider about your options and find the ones that suit you best. Some people might need ADHD medications while others may not. Some might benefit from psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, or a combination of both to reduce symptoms of ADHD.

But while you are here and want to know more about managing and treating ADHD, it's best to learn some helpful tips about Inattentive ADHD.

  • Be Informed and Educate Yourself About ADHD

Equipping yourself with the basic information and understanding about ADHD can go a long way. When you know more about it, you become more aware of your behaviors and can manage them better. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding ADHD, so make sure you get your information from only high-quality sources🔍.

  • Develop a Support System

Having people around you that understand your condition can help you manage ADHD. These people can remind you of your appointments, help you stay on track, and be understanding when things don't go as planned. These people can be your friends, family members, or colleagues that are hundred percent willing to support you and your journey with ADHD😘.

  • Create a Routine and Follow It

One of the best things you can do to manage inattentive ADHD is to have a routine and stick to it as much as possible. Making a to-do list can significantly increase productivity and can minimize distractions. When things are written down, you are less likely to forget about them📝.

  • Have an Open Communication with People Around You

When you frequently zone out of a conversation or have difficulties with any given task, be honest and open about it with the people around you. This way, they can be more understanding and help you with the things you are dealing with. You can also minimize the chance of them getting offended or you being misunderstood🙌.

  • Utilize ADHD Tools and Applications

Some people cannot quickly adapt to technology advancements, but you can try to use them to your advantage. Download applications that can help you with organization, task management, and memory recall. These tools can be beneficial in keeping track of day-to-day activities. You can find the most convenient ADHD tools to use HERE.

  • Keeping the Mind and the Body Healthy

According to an article about ADHD & Exercise, "regular exercise can help to relieve some symptoms of ADHD and improve the executive functions." Hence, people with ADHD must discuss with their doctor about the appropriate exercise for them🧘. 

  • Be Connected to an ADHD Community

There are different online and offline support groups for people with ADHD🧒🙋‍♀️ . When you need to talk to someone who understands what you are going through, reach out to the members of these communities. They can provide emotional support and helpful tips on better managing your condition. They can also attest that having ADHD is not the end of the world and the symptoms of inattentive ADHD can be successfully treated or managed.

  • Get a Professional Medical Advice

Developing ADHD symptoms can be a handful at times. When you suspect yourself of having the traits of inattentive ADHD or even hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, talk to your mental health professional. Please answer all questions for them to be able to diagnose ADHD accurately. After which, they can prescribe the proper medication and other necessary treatments👩‍⚕️ .

  • Be Open to Ways to Treat ADHD

Your mental health doctor may suggest stimulant medications 💊for people with inattentive ADHD. These are the most widely used medications and can help to improve focus and concentration. Social skills training can also be prescribed to improve interactions with other people and prevent social awkwardness from occurring. Behavioral therapy can also be suggested for children with ADHD. This type of therapy can help them understand and cope with their condition.

  • Accept and Embrace this Neurodivergent Disorder

Even though there are numerous methods to treat ADHD and thousands of articles informing you about Attention Deficit Disorder, it all comes down to your perception of it. A person's symptoms of ADHD do not make them less capable than anyone else. Many people with ADHD have gone on to achieve great things. Embrace your disorder and learn to work with it instead of against it🤗.

ADHD and Inattentive ADHD Symptoms: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

Is it true that a person who does not manifest hyperactivity can still be diagnosed with ADHD?

Yes, it is. Sometimes the hyperactivity doesn’t manifest externally or physically, but rather internally or in the mind. This is another type of ADHD called Predominantly Inattentive Type, which means that while the person can still manifest some level of physical hyperactivity, they mostly exhibit inattention and its related symptoms.

What are the common symptoms of inattentive ADHD?

The core symptom of inattentive ADHD is inattention or difficulty focusing on tasks. Other symptoms include forgetfulness, trouble with following instructions, avoiding tasks that require sustained mental effort, getting easily distracted, and zoning out on conversations.

How can inattentive ADHD be treated?

As with other ADHD types, the first step is to get a proper diagnosis. From there, and depending on your symptoms, you and your doctor can work on strategies for treatment, which can include medicines or therapies. Of course, you can also use tools and join supportive ADHD communities.

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