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What is Inattentive ADHD & ADD?

Inattentive ADHD or ADD is one of the theorized 7 types of ADD (Classic ADD, Ring of Fire ADD, Temporal Lobe ADD, Limbic ADD, Overfocused ADD, and Anxious ADD), and is characterized by an inability to focus, pay attention, and complete tasks assigned by either a parent, teacher, or work superior.

Inattentive ADD is a very common type of ADD. However, due to the nature of its observed symptoms, it is often confused for other disorders such as anxiety or depression. Indeed, while hyperactive individuals are easy to spot (they’re the ones running around, cannot stay seated easily, fidgety, interrupting etc.), children and adults afflicted by this ADD subtype often slip under the radar since their Inattentive ADHD symptoms often don’t result in overt behavioral problems. Additionally, it’s important to note that Inattentive ADD is more likely to be present in girls than in boys.

There’s a lot to learn about Inattentive ADD, and in this article, we will discuss the specific features of this type of ADD, including how our medical and psychological professionals at the Drake Institute utilize non-drug, non-invasive treatment protocols to help families and individuals all around the world find relief from their ADD and ADHD symptoms.  

Please note that while ADD/ADHD has been recognized as a formal disorder since 1980, the theoretical 7 types of ADD, including Inattentive ADD, are not official diagnoses recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. However, because the general population has become aware of these subtype labels due to popular media describing their existence, we feel that they are still worth discussing in order to provide clarifying information about the term.

Inattentive ADD Symptoms

The Inattentive ADD type encompasses a wide variety of symptoms:

  • Trouble paying attention
  • Tendency to make careless mistakes
  • Appears distracted, even when spoken to directly
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Failure to finish tasks like schoolwork, chores, etc.
  • Avoidance of activities that require prolonged mental effort
  • Regularly misplaces items required for completing certain tasks
  • Forgetful
  • Lethargic
  • Apathetic
  • Appearing lazy or uncaring
  • Chronic tardiness

By utilizing brain mapping (i.e., qEEG), we are better able to identify what is driving the symptoms of Inattentive ADD in a child or adult. Accurate identification of the underlying brain dysregulation linked to symptoms is essential to designing effective treatments and interventions.  

Inattentive ADHD & ADD in Children

Children suffering from Inattentive ADD will often exhibit behavioral traits like doodling in their notebook, struggling with paying attention in class, and daydreaming.

Additionally, children afflicted by ADHD non-hyperactive subtype will often struggle to follow simple instructions from their parents or teachers, and in some cases, completely disregard the adult altogether. This noncompliant behavior will often lead many parents and teachers to mischaracterize inattentive children as being lazy, uncooperative, and unmotivated.

In truth, inattentive ADD children can become noncompliant due to frustration caused by difficulty sustaining attention for more prolonged periods of time on non-stimulating tasks. These children often begin to resent a world that is expecting them to efficiently complete tasks that their brain is not capable of, thereby causing them to become exasperated.

While telling an ADD or ADHD child to tie their shoes or put their toys away may not sound like a big deal, parents and teachers must understand that the rate at which the child can process information is severely diminished due to the brain being “stuck” in a specific pattern of dysregulation.

Furthermore, if left untreated, these behavioral patterns may carry over into adulthood and continue to disrupt the individual’s academics, job performance, and their relationships with others.

Inattentive ADHD & ADD in Adults

The effects of Inattentive ADD on adults can be downright devastating, as adults suffering from ADD run the real risk of having relationship problems with their friends and family, and also suffering diminished job performance.

Indeed, individuals with this subtype of ADD will find it extremely difficult to keep all aspects of their life in order. For example, the inattentive adult might find it excruciatingly painful to perform daily household chores. Additional strain can also be placed on relationships simply due to the frustration that others experience by dealing with an individual who may be struggling with even the simplest of requests.

And in the workplace, individuals with Inattentive ADD may find it difficult to follow instructions or to pay attention during important meetings, which can limit their ability to advance in the company or even maintain their current position.

While an individual with Inattentive ADD may have significant difficulties, these issues may not necessarily impact all aspects of their daily functioning. To understand why a person may only be able to perform at certain times or in given situations, we have to understand how the inattentive mind works.  

Understanding the Inattentive Brain

For Inattentive ADD to occur, most commonly there is dysregulation in the prefrontal cortex. When this type of dysregulation is present, individuals may feel as if they need to be “pushed” to concentrate on non-preferred tasks in front of them.

This is because the prefrontal cortex plays a significant role in a person’s ability to plan, focus, and to ignore external distractions present in their environment. And, with a dysregulated frontal lobe, the individual will not only find it difficult to focus, but they could also experience negative symptoms like mood swings, low self-esteem, low energy, poor executive functioning, and anxiety.

In the case of the individual seeking employment, the need to acquire employment may stimulate the patient’s brain to kick the brain into a temporary improved state of activation or functioning. However, this effect may only be temporary and once it wears off, the mundane act of executing the job is no longer stimulating enough to sustain focus and adequate functioning on their work.

At home, the inattentive individual might be excited to do some spring cleaning but immediately give up soon afterward as their brain cannot sustain a concerted effort to finish a non-stimulating task. In addition to the house being littered with clutter, trash, and unwashed dishes, the house may also be filled with unfinished projects as well.

In school, the inattentive child might get excited about a new subject or project, but then immediately lose interest and not be able to sustain concentration for task completion. Taking exams is also a major issue for students struggling with their Inattentive ADD symptoms, as focusing on each individual question often proves too exhausting for the child, leading them to rush through their exam and make careless mistakes. 

It is important to differentiate all of these difficulties from simply demonstrating poor motivation or effort. An individual with ADD or ADHD does not have conscious control over being able to fully sustain concentration for task completion on non-stimulating or non-preferred tasks. Simply encouraging or incentivizing an individual to “try harder” will not necessarily improve brain functioning for these patients.  

Inattentive ADHD & ADD Treatment Options

Traditional treatment for Inattentive ADD, like other subtypes of ADD, usually involves a combination of Inattentive ADHD medications and sometimes supplements like L-Tyrosine.

Additionally, some medical professionals have used diet to treat symptoms of Inattentive ADD, which can produce more limited positive results for some individuals.

However, it’s important to note that these treatment protocols do no treat the source (the dysregulation of the brain) of the disorder: they only help manage the symptoms.

To truly treat the disorder, we must first clearly and accurately understand where the dysregulation is occurring in the brain, which is why brain mapping is such a critical step in finding a long-term solution.

By utilizing advanced qEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalogram) brain mapping, in conjunction with other technologies like Neurofeedback and Neuromodulation Therapy, our medical and psychological professionals at the Drake Institute are able to create individualized treatment protocols on each patient—a necessary step in ensuring that every patient gets exactly what they need to maximize the possibility for long-term relief. By utilizing these techniques, we are able to improve the underlying pathology that drive the ADD symptoms rather then simply masking them with medications.

This isn’t to say that Inattentive ADD medications and diet changes aren’t useful; in some cases, these treatment protocols are necessary for helping patients manage their symptoms. However, it must be noted that at times ADD and ADHD medications may result in unwanted side effects and can be abused. Furthermore, since the medications are not addressing the underlying cause of the disorder, once the medication stops, the patient’s symptoms will typically reappear.

Since 1980, the Drake Institute has successfully treated over 14,000 patients without the use of medication. In fact, about 30% of our patients come to us already on some form of medication, and in many cases, we’re able to reduce or eliminate their reliance on their medications within 2-4 months.

This is because our treatment protocols focus on the root of the problem: the brain being dysregulated.

By training the brain to self-regulate, the patient can make a sustained clinical improvement without constantly trying to “medicate” the symptoms away.

Contact the Drake Institute Today

If you or someone you know is suffering from what appears to be Inattentive ADD, please contact us at 1-800-700-4233 to schedule a no-cost screening consultation.

Inattentive ADD can have serious long-term effects for both children and adults, so it’s best to address these problems as soon as is possible rather than wait in hope that they will improve on their own.

Contact Us Today

To get the help you or a loved one needs, call now to schedule your no-cost screening consultation.

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“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Behavioral Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Behavioral Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Behavioral Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Behavioral Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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