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ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a disorder usually identified with hyperactive behavior and impulsiveness. However, there are quite a few exceptions to this rule. In fact, the exceptions are not really “exceptions.”
So, can a quiet person have ADHD? Yes, a quiet person can have ADHD. While the stereotypical person with ADHD is energetic and rambunctious, many people with ADHD don’t exhibit these symptoms. This is because some people with ADHD have inattentive ADHD, which causes the person to appear distracted, forgetful, and aloof.
Inattentive ADHD isn’t as well-known as its hyperactive counterpart, many people suffer from it all over the world. If you’d like to know more about the condition, its diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment choices, keep reading.
What Is Inattentive ADHD?
Also referred to as ADD, inattentive ADHD is an ADHD subtype that could manifest as disengagement, forgetfulness, or distractibility. In adults, it could be mistaken for a mood disorder or anxiety. Kids with inattentive ADHD typically have a hard time learning things.
Now, just because a child is inattentive doesn’t mean they have inattentive ADHD. Children are dreamers by nature; finding them staring lost in thought isn’t abnormal and not necessarily a sign of ADHD. However, if they are constantly having trouble focusing, there is a possibility that inattentive ADHD could be to blame.
How Is Inattentive ADHD Different From Other ADHD Types?
There are three kinds of ADHD. Besides inattentive ADHD, there is hyperactive-impulsive ADHD and combined ADHD. Inattentive ADHD is synonymous with attention issues. The hyperactive type is identified with, as the name indicates, hyperactivity.
Someone with hyperactive ADHD would constantly be moving or doing something as if they are motorized to do so. People with the combined type exhibit symptoms of both inattentive and hyperactive ADHD.
Inattentive ADHD’s Impact
Since hyperactivity is a sign commonly associated with ADHD, people with inattentive ADHD are hard to diagnose. In fact, the affected person themselves usually won’t know they have such a condition.
As a result, they are likely to live with the disorder all their lives without ever treating it. And since ADHD can hamper an individual’s performance in different walks of life, the affected person may end up believing that they were simply born average or lazy.
People who suffer from this form of ADHD will often deal with the following issues:
- Likely to fail in school.
- Unable to do their job.
- Not able to do household chores in a timely and effective manner.
- Likely to have a hard time maintaining friendships.
Individuals with the more common form of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are diagnosed when they are six or seven. In contrast, someone with inattentive ADHD either gets diagnosed later in life or never gets diagnosed at all.
By the time the affected person and the people around them realize and acknowledge the condition, the distressed individual could have developed other health issues due to the ADHD, which may include generalized anxiety or depression.
Inattentive ADHD Diagnosis/Symptoms
To detect inattentive ADHD, it’s imperative to know that such a condition exists and that not all people with ADHD behave hysterically. The following are some major symptoms of inattentive ADHD:
- Have issues focusing, organizing activities and tasks, and following detailed instructions.
- Leaving behind incomplete projects or tasks, such as planting a vegetable garden but not watering it regularly.
- Not listening to people even when the other person is in direct conversation.
- Becoming apathetic toward activities that warrant loads of analyzing and assessing.
- Despising work meetings a lot more than your colleagues, and constantly feeling the urge to chew gum, sip coffee, or even stand while the meeting is in progress.
- Losing or forgetting things easily. Examples include losing your phone, leaving behind the ATM card in the machine, or forgetting to complete a report that’s due the next day.
The spaciness or daydreamy behavior is characteristic of this condition. However, others could misinterpret the actions as apathy or laziness.
As per the National Institute of Mental Health, inattentive ADHD symptoms cannot be easily recognized by medical professionals, teachers, and parents, which renders getting proper treatment at the right time difficult. This, as aforementioned, leads to lifetime apathy, shame, and academic frustration.
Before the treatment could begin, the doctor will often suggest some tests to confirm or rule out inattentive ADHD. These tests focus on:
- Vision or hearing problems
- Learning disabilities
- Depression or anxiety
Once these tests confirm the condition, different treatment methods could be prescribed.
Treating People Suffering From Inattentive ADHD
Though the symptoms vary, the treatment used for the hyperactive kid and quiet adult with ADHD is often the same. The treatment process usually starts with medication. Medications, and other ADHD treatments/therapies, are devised to help bring down the symptoms and boost functioning. They help manage the symptoms and do not necessarily offer a cure.
For most people with inattentive ADHD, medication helps increase their ability to learn, focus, and work. The pills could also help with physical coordination. There are different medicines and dosages for ADHD.
You may have to try out a few and work on the dosage plan before being able to find the medicine and its composition that truly does the trick. Most importantly, you should be taking these medicines as per a doctor’s recommendations.
Medication for ADHD can be broadly classified as stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulant medication is the most common kind used to treat ADHD. The stimulant works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine (brain chemicals), which are crucial to sound thinking and attentiveness. Though there are side effects and risks attached to stimulants, you should be fine if you strictly follow your doctor’s instructions.
If you administer a dose that’s higher than what’s prescribed, you could experience increased heart rate, blood pressure, and/or anxiety. If you already have health issues – such as high blood pressure, heart disease, seizures, kidney disorder, liver disease, etc. – it’s imperative you let your doctor know about them all. Some minor side effects stimulants could cause include sleep problems, decreased appetite, headaches, stomach aches, etc.
Some ADHD medications are non-stimulants. These are not as popular as stimulant medicines, primarily because they take more time than stimulants to work.
However, once they come into effect, they also help address focus and attention issues. Doctors usually prescribe non-stimulants when stimulant drugs are causing bothersome side effects or are not effective. At times, non-stimulant and stimulant medicines could be used in tandem.
Though not FDA-approved for ADHD treatment, certain antidepressants could be combined with a stimulant or used alone to treat ADHD. Like non-stimulants, antidepressants are also usually prescribed when the more conventional medicines are proving to be ineffective.
Also, antidepressants could be prescribed if the patient has other medical issues, such as depression, anxiety disorder, or any other form of mood disorder.
If you do not want to go the medication route, there are a few other treatment methods or techniques to reduce the influence of ADHD on everyday life, such as psychotherapy, education/training, and self-help tricks.
There are several past accounts of psychosocial interventions having helped patients manage their ADHD symptoms. Psychotherapy is all about parents (for kids) and family and friends (for adults) intervening, understanding, and guiding the affected person to reach their complete potential and succeed.
For school-going kids, blame, frustration, and anger could have internally accumulated over time. Their parents would need specialized assistance to overcome those negative thoughts in their kids. For instance, mental health experts could educate parents about their children’s condition and how that could impact their kids. The professionals would also help the kid and their parents develop fresh skills, perspectives, etc.
A kind of psychotherapy, behavioral therapy helps the affected change their behavior. It could entail practical helping methods, such as helping complete schoolwork, organizing certain tasks, or getting through emotionally taxing events.
Parents, family members, and teachers could also chip in and provide their feedback (positive or negative) on specific behaviors and help set up chore lists, clear rules, and other organized routines.
Therapists could also teach social skills to kids, such as the proper way to await turns, the significance of sharing things with others, how to respond to teasing, how to seek assistance, etc. The social skills training could also throw light on slightly more complex topics, such as reading facial expressions or recognizing the tone in others’ speech.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapies are designed to teach people meditation or mindfulness techniques. The goal is to help the affected individual learn spatial awareness and accept their feelings and thoughts so that they could improve their concentration and focus levels. The therapist also helps the person adopt certain behaviors such as not taking unnecessary risks or thinking twice before acting.
Family/marital therapy could help members of a family and spouses come up with better techniques to manage disruptive behaviors, so that there is a change in behavior in the affected and they have more cordial relationships or interactions with others.
Parenting Skills Training
Parenting skills training basically teaches parents of the affected kid the skills they should encourage in their kids and how to reward positive behaviors in them. In other words, parents learn how to incorporate the rewards and consequences system to help change the behavior of their kid.
Parents learn how to give positive and instant feedback for favorable behaviors and redirect or ignore behaviors they would want to discourage. Also, they may learn structuring circumstances in ways that desired behavior gets appreciated.
Classroom Management Interventions
These classroom interventions are designed to help manage specific symptoms and improve the functioning of the kid with peers at school.
These strategies typically consist of reward programs implemented by teachers. Daily report cards could be employed for the purpose. The school could even make certain accommodations to serve the child’s requirements better.
Support groups could help families and parents connect with other people and with other parents who have similar issues and concerns in their families. These groups regularly meet to share their frustrations and also success stories, so that they could learn from each other and get inspired. The information exchanged usually revolve around recommended strategies and the specialists they’ve been consulting with.
Coaching can help the affected develop better memory and organization skills. Based on the coach’s expertise, pretty much all aspects relating to organizing and remembering things could be covered – right from social skills to financial planning.
If coaching sessions seem expensive and onerous, you could incorporate certain self-help tricks that could restore some of your long-gone sanity.
- If you are finding it difficult to complete a boring task, set a timer so that you could take breaks in between and get back after you’ve had your mini-retreat.
- Listen to some high-octane music so that you could charge yourself up for a meeting or chore that you’re sure would be long, difficult, and likely to cause your mind to wander.
- Pull in a friend or family member to check on you at regular intervals so that you stay focused on a project or task and do not abandon it midway.
- Move to a location that’s not distractive or head out briefly for a change of perspective.
Tip: Get a pair of high-quality wireless earbuds for listening to music on the go or when you’re at home.
Can You Diagnose Your Inattentive ADHD by Yourself?
It’s important to note that you can’t self-diagnose yourself; you need the guidance of a doctor to figure out whether you or a loved one is suffering from inattentive ADHD. However, there are certain personality traits you could look for in yourself or others that might cause you to go to the doctor for further evaluation:
You are Always Late
You are always frantically rushing through things in the bid to catch up. You are:
Late to wake up (the snooze button is your friend)
- Late to pay bills
- Late for office
- Late to complete projects
- Late to make to doctor appointments
- Late to fill out forms, etc.
You swear by the last minute. And even if you manage to make it to a place or finish an activity/task well before time, there invariably arises a last-minute hiccup or fumble that could spoil it all.
You Are Not Confident Enough to Make Your Own Decisions
Making decisions turns into a time-consuming and brain-draining affair. Creating a to-do list, choosing a time or route to leave home, ascertaining the set of clothes to wear or what to eat, or ruminating over the things to communicate via an email message, etc. would consume too much of your time and resources.
You Are Not Consistently Productive
When it comes to getting tasks done, you could be at either end of the spectrum. On one day, you would be hyper-focused on tasks. On another day, you would be glaring at your to-do list, not sure how to get started. The days when you’re out and down are not few and far between. In fact, you regularly teeter between fecundity and rustiness.
You Clutter and Postpone Things
Tidying up things doesn’t require too much effort or thinking. But, for some reason, even hanging up your jacket or taking your shirt off seems like work to you. You have the tendency to postpone the smallest of tasks – the worst part is that the time to actually get things done never comes. This means your clothes do not go to the laundry often, sitting all piled up on a chair in the corner. Also, couches, laundry baskets, and/or chairs turn into drawers.
You Continuously Ramble From Within
Perhaps the most painful sign is inward and something which others cannot see – you are never quiet from within. You have a continual movement of thoughts in your head, which hit and consume you unexpectedly and involuntarily. The thoughts you get are not solutions to problems you may have. They are purely based on your imagination, which you have little to no control over.
You Spend Too Much Time and Effort Empathizing
Caring about and for other people is a great quality to possess. However, if your compassion and empathy excessively consume your mind, body, and time, then you have a problem. Your anxiety and worry, in fact, grow so strong that you end up unable to focus, communicate, or function. Also, your desire to help others invariably clouds your judgment, or you are unable to carefully assess the situation before helping the affected.
Kindly note these signs are purely indications you could have inattentive ADHD. Do not come to a conclusion based on these signs alone or do not self-treat.
Inattentive ADHD is hard to deal with compared to the more recognizable ADHD type. If you are diagnosed with the condition, you could be at the receiving end of several snide remarks from others. And if the taunting and criticizing continues, your self-esteem may take a blow, and you could gravitate toward the recluse life. Even a proper diagnosis, at this point, may not put your lingering doubts to rest.
To effectively deal with inattentive ADHD and overcome all the challenges it brings along, it’s imperative you do not hide things and get help immediately. The assistance could be from a professional, or you could just get talking with your spouse, family member, or a friend. If you or someone you know has been performing poorly at school or work despite all the efforts, get a diagnosis immediately to confirm or rule out inattentive ADHD.
- College of Allied Educators: Can someone with ADHD be calm and quiet?
- Reset ADHD: The Relationship Between ADHD and Introversion
- Everyday Health: What’s Quiet ADHD?
- Mayo Clinic: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children
- ADDitude: What Is ADD? Inattentive ADHD Explained
- NIMH: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- WebMD: ADHD: Inattentive Type
- ADDitude: The Silent Suffering of Adults with ADHD