ADHD. Inattentive Type

Typically when you hear the term ADHD the Hyperactive-impulsive type comes to mind and the  ADHD Inattentive type is left in the shadows. However, Inattentive ADHD can be just as problematic if left unmanaged.  Of course, some people have the combined type and experience both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive ADHD.

Here are 15  characteristics you could be experiencing if you have inattentive ADHD.

1) Hard for you to focus, yet you can be physically still.
2) Don’t appear to listen to others during conversations,
3) Those close to you complain you forget things they shared with you
4) Disorganized in your physical environment,
5) Find it hard to stay on task from beginning to end, and even harder if the task is boring
6) Make careless errors despite your best intentions.
7) Detailed tasks, for example taxes, are exceptionally challenging and stressful
8) You find it hard to follow verbal or written instructions
9) Often late for or miss appointments
10) Lose important items often, like  keys wallets and passports
11) People would describe you as a day dreamer
12) Find it hard to block out noise
13) Experience fatigue
14) You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘Could try harder” a lot a school (even if you were trying +++)
15) Are prone to Procrastination

If this is you, don’t be alarmed. There are things you can do to manage these characteristics.

1) Listen to classical music.
Have you heard of the Mozart effect? Listening to classical music, but particularly Mozart, helps you to focus and complete tasks more effectively. You can do this while you are studying, paying the bills, working on a report or running errands. Aim for 3 hours a day. Playing music also has the added benefit of blocking out other distracting noises.

Try to exercise daily. It improves attention and energizes you both in the long term and as a short term fix

3) Organizational tools.
Use organization tools and tricks that work for you. You might , write lists, consider getting and using an agenda, use a timer, etc.

4) Reduce stimulation
Reduce unwanted stimulation in your environment. For example, clutter, noise (point 1 will help with this). By doing this, you will be able to focus more easily on what is important to you.

5) Increase Visibility
Increase the visibility of things that do need your attention. For example at work you can have a white  board with your ongoing projects listed, and brightly color-coded folders in sight.

When you employ these techniques (and any others that you have found work for you personally) you will notice a big difference in how you function in the world and feel about yourself.


  1. Michelle says:

    I’ve been finding acouple stray articles that suggest non-stimulants might be better for inattentive type adhd.

    • Hi Michelle, that is interesting. Can you remember which non stimulant meds these articles were about?

      Here is an interesting article

      • Sheila says:

        I take a (very) low dose of Strattera and have found I can focus much better (with some coaching on time management etc.). I was never precribed stimulants, I have never asked why but it could be because I am prone to insomnia and also can become anxious, so they may be counter-productive. I was on a higher dose of the Strattera but didn’t like the side effects. I said I was going to give it up altogether – but reducing it right down keeps most of the benefits without many negatives (feeling sick being a major one).

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I am 39 and have struggled with extreme inattentive ADD for my entire life. Wondering your thoughts on the best meds for inattentive types. It seems like all meds are created for hyper types. Adderall makes me very anxious & gives me terrible insomnia.

    • Ann Sparks says:

      I’m 55 y/o and just was diagnosed with Inattentive ADHD a couple of months ago. I had struggled in school and college, ever since 6th grade, particularly with lengthy reading assignments, feeling frazzled when pushed for productivity, and organization/clutter. Amazingly enough, I obtained my Master’s Degree in Nursing 5 years ago, but have had struggles holding a job.

      Adderall XR gave me side effects which were intolerable, even when treated with anxiety medications. Just last week, I was switched to Concerta (Long-Acting Ritalin) and there’s essentially no side effects with the Concerta. I’m still at a modest dose of 36mg. I have moderate anxiety (have had all of my life), so I am still talking the anxiety medication too. But I plan on omitting the anxiety medication within a few days.

      I am already feeling better in regards to my self-esteem and confidence, which I can attribute to the medication for ADHD. In fact, I have a great interest in becoming a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and have decided to go back to school for one more year! I’ve worked in a Pediatric Psychiatric Hospital and both the CEO and my collaborative psychiatrist told me, “You have a gift for psychiatry; you’ve found your niche.”

      Yes, I’ve heard from one person with Inattentive ADHD that med helped 100% — another said that meds helped his symptoms about 80-90%.
      LONG story, short, I knew that I MIGHT not find success is the first medication attempted. I am one to persevere, and CONCERTA is working much better, with much fewer side effects. If for some reason CONCERTA doesn’t work when I stop the anxiety medication, there is always FOCALIN or non-narcotic STRATTERA to try.

      By the way, make sure your thyroid is tested too, by getting a TSH, FT4 – hypothyroidism can cause symptoms of ADHD too.

  3. Becky says:

    My son has ADHD and he fits your 15 items and I am going nuts trying to help him and he is 21 years old.

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