Understanding ADHD: The Inattentive Type

3 min read 2023 Feb 2

While many people associate ADHD – attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder – with symptoms such as lack of attention and hyperactivity, the condition is still widely misunderstood. Especially the ADHD inattentive type, since the symptoms, such as difficulty sustaining attention, forgetfulness, and disorganization, are often regarded as laziness.

ADHD is a disorder that affects the brain by disrupting the normal functioning of certain neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine and norepinephrine, which play a role in regulating attention and behavior. 

What Is ADHD and How Does It Develop?

In the medical community, ADHD is considered to be a neurodevelopmental disorder that is thought to have a genetic component. 

Research has shown that ADHD can run in families and that there is a strong hereditary link. 

However, the exact causes of ADHD are not yet fully understood – it is suspected that both genetics and environmental factors play a role. They are still being studied, and more research is needed in this area.

Though believed by some, it is not possible to “develop” ADHD. Since it’s a neurodevelopmental disorder, one has to be born with it. However, symptoms can emerge or become more pronounced during certain life stages, such as puberty, pregnancy, or menopause.

While the exact causes of ADHD are yet unraveled, the symptoms in those with ADHD reveal a pattern. Some common ADHD symptoms include:

  • Difficulty concentrating and sustaining attention
  • Forgetfulness
  • Impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity

ADHD Types

It’s worth mentioning that the expression of symptoms varies from person to person.

Some people appear more hyperactive, fidgety, and impulsive, while others display a more inattentive, forgetful personality. Others show a whole array of symptoms – from lack of attention to hyperactivity.

Thus, based on their personal symptoms, those with ADHD are usually categorized into 3 main ADHD types:

  1. ADHD inattentive type
  2. ADHD hyperactive type
  3. ADHD combined type

What about ADD?

You might have heard the term ADD used simultaneously with ADHD. Attention deficit disorder, or ADD, is an outdated term and is not used in the medical community anymore. 

Research showed that many individuals with ADD also had symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity, many of which might have been internalized, so the criteria were expanded to include these symptoms as well.

The term ADD was used in the past to describe the inattentive type of ADHD, but it has since been replaced by the more comprehensive ADHD term because of the updated diagnostic criteria.

ADHD Differences in Genders

Interestingly, ADHD tends to manifest differently in men and women – there are some gender differences for the ADHD inattentive type. 

Women with ADHD tend to experience more internalized symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. Men, however, tend to display more externalized symptoms, such as impulsivity and hyperactivity. While women also experience hyperactivity, it is usually not expressed externally.

Research suggests that women are diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type more frequently than men, although this may be partly due to differences in presentation and diagnosis. 

Women with ADHD may have more subtle symptoms, such as forgetfulness, disorganization, and difficulties with planning and prioritization, which may not be recognized as easily as the overt symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity often seen in men with ADHD.

It’s worth noting that there may be gender biases in the diagnostic process, with women being more likely to receive a later or missed diagnosis. However, it is essential to note that ADHD affects both men and women equally and can be diagnosed in individuals of any gender and age.

Living With ADHD Inattentive Type  

Despite gender differences, both men and women with ADHD may experience challenges in school, work, and relationships due to inattention and disorganization.

However, even with heightened emotions, a lack of organizational and time management skills, and difficulty concentrating and completing tasks, people with ADHD can live fulfilling and happy lives. 

While we all have to accept and live by certain societal rules, there’s no need to aim and change how your brain works. The key to a fulfilling life with ADHD is finding your strengths, understanding your issues, and developing a coherent strategy to work through them in a way that works for you.

Read more about ADHD inattentive type and its symptoms here.

Ready to manage your ADHD?

Answer a quick quiz to discover which ADHD-management approach works for you