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.

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  1. Taylor says:

    So I haven’t been diagnosed with inattentive adhd, but am wondering if I should get checked. I don’t meet all of the symptoms, as I keep an hourly/daily schedule and regularly clean my room. But the reasons I do these things is because if I don’t, my life would be a complete mess. I NEED to do these things or I *will* fail in college. What I do have issues with is remembering the things I read/learn in class, focusing when I’m reading/writing a paper/doing a longer task, paying attention to details, etc. I have a really hard time remembering the things that people tell me when I’m just casually talking or listening to a list of things they need, which affects my friendships. No matter how hard I try to pay attention to my friends or stick with a group conversation, I always end up thinking about something else (usually related to what they said), and then come back to the convo realizing my thoughts kind of trailed off. If I don’t write down literally everything that I have to do within the week and write down instructions as people are telling me them, there is a 98% chance I will forget about it. I think that through the years (I’m 22 now), I’ve sort of naturally adapted to my deficiencies, which is why I like to keep a clean room and a written schedule. I’m wondering if there’s a possibility I might have the innattentive kind of ADHD. I definitely don’t have the hyperactive part. If anything, I am very frequently tired, sometimes overstimulated, and just want to be by myself. People sometimes think I’m sad when in reality, I just don’t have the energy to make the facial expressions you make when you’re happy/interested in something. I don’t know. I think I’m just rambling at this point. But I’d like to get some other opinions before I take the time/money to get checked, and I don’t want to make a big deal out of something that may not be what I think it is.

  2. Dave says:

    I seem to be combined-type, although I think the hyperactivity isn’t apparent to most people. Only those who know me well. I’m pretty good at hiding it in public. Which why, I think, people often don’t believe me when I say I have ADHD. They’re expecting the hyper-active bouncy type.

    The hyperactivity is there. It’s just building under the surface. As manifest by my numerous injuries, near death experiences, near engagements, major changes, etc.

    So while some people see me as solid and reliable, others see me as flaky and inconsistent. Typically the latter were once the former, and are, at times, quite vocal in their disappointment. I think I’d prefer it went the opposite direction. I think those that have known me for a long time have a more complex view of me, and are beginning to accept the role ADHD plays in all that.

    My public face isn’t so much an act, as a reflection of the person I’d like to see myself as, and I believe the people close to me realize that. At least I hope they do 🙂

  3. Just a quick thank you for the article. I appreciate the info and I appreciate the comments as well. I am feeling lost with all my symptoms and knowing others are tackling thier lives and gaining control gives me hope.

  4. Walter says:

    I was diagnosed with the full monty ADHDhi and have been through several medications trying to find the right one. I am currently on Vyvanse and it does a great job for the impulsive side, but I still fall asleep anytime I am in a meeting, class, or even some conversations. I am currently on 30mg but will be going to 40mg on my next visit to the doctor. What is frustrating was he moved me to 50mg and it was just too much so he moved me back to the 30mg. Now I have to change the dose again and see how it works.

    I am 44 and have been dealing with this since I was a kid. I made it through college and have a successful career, but it seems like it has gotten worse since I hit forty. I have spent the last two years being a lab rat for constant testing to make sure it’s not other conditions causing me to think this way, but they haven’t found anything yet. I am scheduled for another round of testing tomorrow morning but I doubt they find anything this time either.

    Has anyone else noticed their condition getting worse in any way in their adulthood? I would love to know if it’s just me!!

  5. Polly says:

    I have not been diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, but am 98% sure I have it. I meet virtually all the criteria. Executive function skills are tough for me: organizing, prioritizing, time management, focusing, remembering, keeping track of things, I’m easily distracted, love to start things, but difficult to complete them because I’ve moved on to other things, etc…

    I’m wondering if meds will help me. I’m 48 years old. All of my life I have dealt with these issues and it’s very discouraging. Most of these tasks are simple for many people. I would love to feel a part of this group. In what way do the meds work when it’s the right drug/dosage for the individual? Help with focus? Concentration? I would love to hear some positive stories. I have heard plenty of the negative side effects, would like to hear the good ones as well.

  6. Jenni says:

    This is an excellent article. My son has ADDi and is now going to University. I’m so very proud of him. As a Mum of an ADD adult, it really is still about keeping him on task, reminding without nagging, and helping to instill organisation in daily life…I had numbered lists with pictures of what to do in the morning/afternoon laminated and put in toilet, bathroom, bedroom and on fridge door. That was when he was young. Nowadays it’s writing appts/activities in the household diary, uni schedules on the fridge and household rules for grown ups. Having a good support network is so important too. Kokoda Kids helped my son so much.
    To all of the adults with ADDi out there, I’m proud of you! Daydreams, love and hugs!

    • Hi Jenni!
      Congratulations to you and your son! Getting to university when you have ADD is a huge achievement.
      The laminated pictured checklist sound fabulous!

  7. 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).

    • Tgparker2 says:

      My husband was only diagnosed at age 47 with ADHD, predominantly of the inattentive type. He was started on Vivance, then one stimulant after another. His weight went from a nicely carried 170lbs down to skin and bones 120lbs. For almost a year now he has been taking a non stimulant Stratera 40mg. His weight started climbing back up to his healthy 170.
      We are currently seeking therapy for aids that will help his memory challenges along with music, the Mozart effect. Inattentive types have melt-downs too, their called “shut-downs”. It’s like turning off the power. It’s not something that can be helped with stimulants. People have to learn where the power switch is and not turn it off. Completely opposite of the hyperactive type. My husband grew up with a parent and two siblings with ADD. It boils my blood that he was just passed over. I thank God I have him in my life. He was my rock through stage 3 cancer, retired from the Navy and has never met a single soul he wouldn’t reach out to help in whatever way he can.
      Sorry for the little rant, but there is a HUGE need for more research and availability of information on this type.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    • vaibhav says:

      Dont worry your son is not alone, even I am going through same pattern. Though i am on my medication and therapy still nothing seems to work out and it is so frustrating that it killing my will to live. I am not doing anything about it

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