7 Types of ADD: Understanding the Different Kinds of Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)* is a common cognitive and behavioral condition that afflicts many kids and adults in our society.

ADD and Kids

ADD is one of the most prevalent childhood developmental problems. Also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)*, ADD is a neurodevelopmental disorder marked by pervasive problems with attention, and in many cases, impulsive and hyperactive behavior as well.

These often lead to a range of behavioral issues that can cause significant challenges in school and interfere with social development and peer interactions. Though cases continue to rise, ADD remains one of the most misunderstood and incorrectly treated cognitive and behavioral conditions today.

ADD and Adults

In many cases, the condition doesn’t end in childhood and can fly under the radar in adults who were never diagnosed by a healthcare professional in childhood. Approximately 60% of those diagnosed with ADD in childhood will continue to have issues that affect their functioning as adults.

Lifelong Impact of ADD

Types of ADD 2 When left untreated or unmanaged, ADD can have a detrimental effect on all areas of life throughout a person’s life, such as social connections, romantic relationships, and career and academic success. Younger children with ADD can struggle with social interactions and may instigate conflicts with their peers. Research shows that younger children diagnosed with ADD may find it difficult to regulate their emotions, especially anger, and can have greater challenges coping with frustration than their peers.

Teens with ADD are at a higher risk for substance abuse and other risky behaviors, like unintended pregnancies and unsafe driving. A 2016 study published in JAMA Psychiatry noted that adults with ADHD may have a harder time functioning in daily life, have higher levels of anxiousness, and have a higher dependence on illicit drugs.

So, now that we’ve seen how ADD can affect people of all ages, let’s look at some of the common signs of the condition.

Core Symptoms of ADD

Here are just a few of the core symptoms of ADD:

  • A short attention span for regular, routine, everyday tasks (homework, chores, etc.)
  • Distractibility
  • Organization problems (like having a messy room, always running late, etc.)
  • Procrastination
  • Forgetfulness
  • Problems with follow-through
  • Poor impulse control (saying or doing something before thinking it through)

If you think you have ADD/ADHD, the first step in addressing your concerns is to consult with a doctor. They can help determine if you meet the clinical criteria for ADD/ADHD, and offer guidance and possible treatment recommendations.

The Good News About ADD

Symptoms of ADD can vary from person to person and include a range of types. Using breakthrough diagnostic techniques, Dr. Daniel Amen has discovered that there are 7 distinct types of ADD. Knowing your type can reduce stigma by helping you understand how your unique brain works.

What You Need to Know About the 7 Types of ADD (for Kids & Adults)

These are the identifying characteristics of the 7 types of ADD:

Type 1

Classic ADD (ADHD)

This first type of ADD is usually evident early in life. As babies, they tend to be colicky, active, and wiggly. As children, they tend to be restless, noisy, talkative, impulsive, and demanding.

Their hyperactivity and conflict-driven behavior tends to get everyone’s attention. Classic ADD is often called ADHD, with an emphasis on the hyperactive behavior trait, but many of the ADD types aren’t hyperactive.

Parents of these kids are often tired, overwhelmed, and even embarrassed by the behavior of their non-stop and hard-to-control children. Classic ADD tends to be more frequently seen in boys. Even as adults, those with this type of ADD tend to have a great deal of energy and a preference for physical activity rather than a sedentary lifestyle.

Type 2

Inattentive ADD

Inattentive ADD is the second most common type of ADD. Those suffering with this type are usually quiet, introverted, and appear to daydream a lot. They may be labeled as unmotivated, slow, or lazy. Inattentive ADD is common but is often missed because children with this type tend to have fewer behavioral problems. They don’t draw negative attention to themselves as do those with Classic ADD.

Inattentive ADD is the perfect example of why the general term ADHD doesn’t fit all ADD types. If clinicians and parents only look for signs of hyperactivity, those with this type, which typically don’t have the hyperactive trait, may be left untreated and go on living life below their true potential.

Type 3

Overfocused ADD

To have proper focus, it’s necessary to be able to shift your attention as needed. People suffering with Overfocused ADD may have difficulty shifting their attention; they can become hyper-focused on certain things while tuning out everything else.

These folks tend to get stuck or locked into negative thought patterns and behaviors. This type of ADD is often found in substance abusers as well as the children and grandchildren of alcoholics.

Type 4

Temporal Lobe ADD

People with this type of ADD have the hallmark features of ADD plus symptoms associated with temporal lobe problems, such as issues with learning, memory, mood instability, aggression, temper outbursts, and sometimes even violence. It’s common to see this type of ADD in people who’ve suffered a head injury.

Type 5

Limbic ADD

In this type, the prefrontal cortex is underactive during concentration while the deep limbic area – which sets your emotional tone, controlling how happy or sad you are – is overactive. Overactivity in the deep limbic area is often associated with low mood.

Type 6

Ring of Fire ADD

Ring of Fire ADD has an overall hyperactive brain activity, which is a stark contrast to the other 7 types of ADD. When seen on a SPECT scan, there’s a ring of hyperactivity around the brain, hence the term “Ring of Fire.”

Those with this type tend to have difficulty “turning off” their brains and typically feel overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions. This type tends to get much worse on stimulant medications alone.

Type 7

Anxious ADD

With Anxious ADD, there’s low activity in the prefrontal cortex while there’s overactivity in the basal ganglia, which sets the body’s “idle speed.” The ADD symptoms in people suffering with this type tend to be magnified by their feelings of anxiousness. Treatment for people with Anxious ADD often includes both calming and stimulating the brain.

Note: It’s important to know that some of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD overlap with those of other mental health conditions, and, as such, the underlying cause and appropriate treatment for each type may be completely different.

Get to Know Your Brain In a Whole New Way!

Like many other mental health conditions, ADD isn’t just a single, simple issue, and treatment shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. Each of the 7 types of ADD requires a different treatment plan. What works for one person with ADD may not work for another – or could even make the symptoms worse!

If you think you or a loved one may have ADD/ADHD, be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner or download the free Getting to Know the 7 ADD Types eBook from Amen Clinics to learn more.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This content is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical or healthcare advice from a physician, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new health regimen.

Keith Rowe
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Graciela Vázquez

how about EHT from Nerium it can help these disorders?

Niddrie Dental Clinic

Very interesting and special post.

Ashley Maxwell

Thanks for your comment about how a sign for ADD is when someone can’t pay attention for long periods of time. I didn’t know that there were different types of ADD as well such as inattentive and temporal lobe. My husband and I have a son with this, and we are looking into treatments or counseling for him.