Exploring ADHD-PI: When Inattention Is the Issue
Having a brain that constantly wanders, struggles to remember details, and gets easily overwhelmed by tasks can be challenging. Many people with ADHD know what this feels like, and for people with ADHD-PI, or predominantly inattentive type, it’s the main reason for seeking treatment.
ADHD-PI, or inattentive type, is one of the three subtypes of ADHD. Its main symptoms involve forgetfulness, disorganization, inattentiveness, and a lack of concentration.
Research suggests that it affects around 33% of all ADHDers. Though common, this form of ADHD is far less recognized and can sometimes be mistaken for a mood or anxiety disorder.
With the proper diagnosis and treatment, people with ADHD-PI can improve their focus and organizational skills, giving them the best shot at success in their careers and academics.
What Is ADHD-PI?
ADHD-PI is a subtype of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder characterized by symptoms of inattention.
For example, an individual with ADHD-PI may often misplace important items, miss deadlines, mix up work instructions, or have trouble paying attention during conversations.
Because of these behaviors, the person may be seen as a “daydreamer” or “someone who couldn’t care less,” especially if the condition is undiagnosed. But these labels greatly misrepresent the person’s true abilities and struggles.
If ADHD has changed how you approach work or school, it’s important to realize that this does not make you “lazy” or “apathetic.” Science has proven that the unique structure and chemistry of the ADHD brain can make it difficult to pay attention and stay on track.
But with the right support and treatment, many people with ADHD can let go of those negative labels. They can find ways to manage their symptoms, so they can focus when they need to on the things they care about.
Signs of Inattentive ADHD
A person with inattentive type may have symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity. But their main symptoms affect their ability to focus, organize, prioritize, and complete tasks.
If you have inattentive-type ADHD, you may notice the following:
- Being forgetful in your daily activities and chores (e.g., missing bills or appointments)
- Being easily distracted by your surroundings or unrelated thoughts
- Missing details and making careless mistakes at school or work
- Having difficulty organizing your time, projects, and belongings
- Avoiding work that requires you to focus for extended periods
- Getting distracted or disengaged during conversations
- Forgetting instructions and failing to finish tasks
- Losing items that you need for various activities
- Struggling to stay focused on specific activities
The above symptoms are based on the diagnostic criteria listed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). This widely-adopted resource helps healthcare professionals diagnose mental health conditions more accurately.
According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis for ADHD-PI can be made if an adult fulfills at least five of the symptoms in the list above for six months or more. The symptoms also have to be significant enough to interfere with a person’s social life and career or academics.
How Does ADHD-PI Differ From ADHD?
There are three different subtypes of ADHD, each with different diagnostic criteria and symptom profiles.
They are as follows:
- Inattentive-type: As discussed earlier, the main symptoms of this type involve distractibility, forgetfulness, and a lack of time management or proper prioritization.
- Hyperactive/impulsive type: Individuals with this subtype tend to fidget and have trouble staying seated. They may seem like they’re always on the move and difficult to keep up with. Additionally, they often struggle with self-control and have trouble waiting their turn.
- Combined-type: People with combined-type show a balanced mix of symptoms of inattention and symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity.
ADHD-PI shares many common features with the other two subtypes. However, the most striking difference is this: Those with predominantly inattentive have fewer symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity (if any at all) compared to those with hyperactive-type or combined-type ADHD.
The networks and structure of the brain may also differ from one subtype to the other.
The medication and treatment for all three subtypes tend to overlap. But there may be slight differences in how to manage each.
For example, your therapist or ADHD coach may focus more on improving attention and memory if you have inattentive type. On the other hand, a person with hyperactive/impulsive type may need more professional support for self-control and regulation.
Predominantly Inattentive ADHD Treatment Options
You can take an ADHD-PI screening test or seek a doctor’s advice if you think you have this ADHD subtype. Your doctor will inquire about your symptoms and may utilize behavioral rating scales to help with the evaluation.
The right diagnosis opens the door to proper treatment and support, which can lead to better focus, memory, and organization skills.
According to research, the most effective management approach typically involves a combination of both medications and therapy.
The most commonly used medications to treat ADHD-PI are divided into two categories:
Stimulant medications are generally the first treatment choice because they’re the most effective for many people. They help regulate the levels of chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters in your brain.
Your doctor might recommend a long-acting stimulant medication. This preparation can be more convenient and often has a smoother and longer-lasting effect on symptoms.
If stimulant medications don’t work well enough, your healthcare professional may recommend non-stimulant drugs.
Apart from medications, you can also manage inattentive type through other methods. These include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: CBT guides you in identifying negative behaviors and thinking patterns. You’ll learn how to replace them with positive habits that improve your organization, planning, focus, and communication skills.
- ADHD coaching: You can collaborate with an ADHD coach to set up personalized structures and strategies that boost your attention and organizational skills.
- Support groups: These communities are a safe, judgment-free zone where you can connect with like-minded people and seek support and advice from those on a similar journey. One such community is the ADDA+ virtual support group for adults.
Other practical coping strategies include body doubling and using productivity timers or apps to keep you on track. Decluttering your workspace and switching up your work environment can help you focus on your tasks.
ADHD Doesn’t Disqualify Success and Productivity
Inattentive-type ADHD is highly treatable. A combination of medications, therapy, and lifestyle changes can help you redirect your attention and tap into your true capabilities.
If you want to learn more about ADHD-PI and other subtypes, check out ADDA+. It’s a one-stop center for expert-curated ADHD resources, tools, courses, and tips. It’s also where you can find a supportive community of peers who can cheer you on as you work toward and achieve your goals!
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