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The Benefit of Recognizing the 7 Types of ADHD in Adults

Jan 8, 2024 | 0 comments


The information provided here is not intended to be a substitute for professional health and mental health care or consultation. Individuals who believe they may require or benefit from treatment should seek the advice of a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional.

Very Good Counseling is a private practice of licensed mental health therapists who specialize in EMDR.  We provide online mental health services to individuals throughout the State of Florida,  and in-person at our office in Fort Myers, FL. For more information, contact us.

by: <a href="" target="_blank">Robert Engle, EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Therapist</a>

by: Robert Engle, EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Therapist

Because We Believe You Matter

Robert joined the practice full time in 2022 to help neurodivergent individuals with ADHD, anxiety, and depression find freedom and enjoy life through counseling. He is currently working towards becoming a Certified ADHD Professional (ADHD-CCSP). Trained in EMDR therapy, he excels at understanding the intricacies of ADHD and Trauma.

The concept of the seven types of ADHD was introduced by Dr. Daniel G. Amen, a prominent psychiatrist and author specializing in brain health. Dr. Amen’s approach to understanding and categorizing ADHD represents a departure from the traditional diagnostic framework, thus being controversial in some circles.

While some controversy may surround this model, an exploration of the 7 types of ADHD in adults has the potential to provide individuals with adult ADHD a more personalized understanding of their own experience.

Dr. Amen and the 7 Types of ADHD in Adults: A Brief Reflection

Dr. Amen’s work is rooted in the idea that the brain plays a central role in mental health, and by examining brain patterns, we can gain insights into various mental health conditions, including ADHD. He identified distinct patterns associated with ADHD through brain imaging studies, leading to the classification of seven types, each characterized by specific cognitive and behavioral features.

The controversy surrounding Dr. Amen’s model stems from the debate within the scientific and medical communities regarding the validity and reliability of his brain imaging approach for diagnosing and classifying ADHD. Traditional diagnostic criteria, such as those outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), rely on behavioral observations and self-reported experiences rather than neuroimaging.

Despite the controversy, Dr. Amen’s model has resonated with some individuals and clinicians who appreciate the attempt to move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to ADHD. The notion of seven distinct types acknowledges the heterogeneity of ADHD experiences, emphasizing that individuals may manifest symptoms differently.

For adults with ADHD, exploring the seven types can offer a valuable perspective. It’s not about discarding traditional diagnostic methods but rather complementing them with a more nuanced understanding of how ADHD may manifest on an individual level. By recognizing the specific challenges associated with their particular type, adults with ADHD can tailor their coping strategies and interventions more effectively.

Whether you resonate more with the classic presentation of ADHD, the subtleties of inattention, the restlessness of hyperactivity-impulsivity, or the emotional rollercoaster of emotional dysregulation, understanding your unique profile can be empowering. It provides a roadmap for navigating challenges and seeking targeted support.

The 7 Types of ADHD in Adults

1. Classic ADHD: The Triple Challenge

Classic ADHD is the quintessential portrayal of the disorder, incorporating a triumvirate of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Adults with Classic ADHD find themselves wrestling with a myriad of issues – from struggling to stay focused on tasks to battling impulsivity and feeling the constant urge for activity. 

Imagine trying to concentrate on a project at work while your mind dances from one idea to another, or finding it nearly impossible to resist the impulse to blurt out thoughts during a meeting. Classic ADHD is a complex interplay of factors that can significantly impact daily life, both personally and professionally. 

2. Inattentive ADHD: The Unseen Struggle

Inattentive ADHD often flies under the radar, especially in adults who may have developed coping mechanisms over the years. The hallmark of this type is an ongoing battle with sustaining attention, organizing tasks, and completing projects. 

Individuals with Inattentive ADHD may be perceived as disorganized or forgetful, facing challenges in areas that demand prolonged focus. From overlooking crucial details in a report to constantly misplacing keys, the subtle but pervasive impact of inattention can add an extra layer of complexity to an adult’s life.

3. Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD: Restless Energy Unleashed

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD turns up the volume on the hyperactivity and impulsive aspects of the disorder. Imagine feeling an incessant need to move, an internal restlessness that refuses to be stilled. Adults with this type of ADHD often find it hard to sit still, whether it’s at work, in social situations, or even during moments of relaxation. 

Impulsive decision-making is a constant companion, leading to actions without thorough consideration of the consequences. This type of ADHD can make relationships and professional interactions challenging, as the individual navigates the fine line between spontaneity and impulsivity.

4. Combined ADHD: The Balancing Act

Combined ADHD is a blending of the characteristics found in Classic ADHD, featuring both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. This amalgamation can present a unique set of challenges, requiring individuals to navigate the complexities of internal focus and external impulsivity simultaneously. 

The balancing act can be exhausting, as the tug-of-war between completing tasks and managing impulsive actions becomes a daily reality. It’s a constant negotiation between the need for structure and the desire for spontaneity.

5. Emotional Dysregulation ADHD: Riding the Emotional Rollercoaster

For some adults with ADHD, the struggle goes beyond the cognitive realm into the realm of emotions. Emotional Dysregulation ADHD is characterized by intense emotional fluctuations, leading to mood swings, irritability, and heightened sensitivity to stressors.

Picture a rollercoaster ride of emotions, where highs and lows are magnified, making it challenging to maintain emotional equilibrium. Understanding and managing these emotional peaks and valleys becomes crucial for maintaining healthy relationships and overall well-being.

6. Cognitive Sluggish ADHD: Navigating Mental Fog

Cognitive Sluggish ADHD introduces a unique challenge – a mental fog that hampers cognitive processes. Adults with this type of ADHD may experience slow processing speed, making mental tasks more demanding and time-consuming. 

Forgetfulness becomes a frequent companion, and concentration becomes a Herculean task. It’s akin to trying to think through a dense fog, where clarity remains elusive. Recognizing and addressing this cognitive sluggishness is vital for effectively managing daily responsibilities and maintaining a sense of control.

7. Post-Traumatic ADHD: Unveiling Hidden Struggles

When ADHD symptoms emerge or intensify following a traumatic event, it is termed Post-Traumatic ADHD. Trauma can serve as a catalyst, either exacerbating existing ADHD tendencies or unearthing symptoms that were not previously apparent. 

Picture the added layer of complexity as individuals grapple with the aftermath of a traumatic experience, compounded by the challenges of ADHD. Navigating this intersection requires a nuanced approach, addressing both the trauma and the ADHD symptoms to foster healing and resilience.

Understanding and Managing ADHD in Adults

Living with ADHD as an adult is a dynamic journey, and recognizing the specific type can be a game-changer, as each type brings its own set of challenges. But whether you seem to resonate with Classic ADHD, Inattentive ADHD, or any other variation of the 7 types of ADHD in adults, remember that you are not alone. 

Seeking professional guidance, whether through therapy, medication, or a combination of both, can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with ADHD. Therapy can provide valuable tools to manage symptoms, while medication can offer a targeted approach to address specific challenges.

Start your healing journey with us. 

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