Uncovering The Mysteries Behind ADHD-PI & The Other Types Of ADHD

Reviewed by Whitney White, MS CMHC, NCC., LPC

Published 12/23/2020

ADHD, also known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in the world today. It’s recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) and is a highly serious condition.

While many people are aware of ADHD, they aren’t fully aware of what it represents in mental health. While some people have the wrong idea of what ADHD is, others only understand bits and pieces of what ADHD means.

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Before an individual can receive treatment for ADHD, healthcare professionals must first determine the subtype of ADHD that the individual has. They mustn’t misdiagnose the type of ADHD. Otherwise, the individual won’t receive the help they need.

There are three main subtypes when diagnosing ADHD -- combined type (ADHD-C), predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type (ADHD-HI), and predominantly inattentive type (ADHD-PI). Contrary to popular belief, there are extremely significant differences between the three.

So, what Is ADHD-PI?

ADHD-PI, also known as predominantly inattentive type ADHD, is a subtype of ADHD where the individual experiences symptoms that affect their ability to pay attention and concentrate. Nine major symptoms fit this category, according to the DSM-5.

Let’s take a look at these symptoms:

  1. Often makes careless mistakes and errors or don’t pay close attention to details.
  2. Has difficulty listening when spoken to, even if they’re called on directly.
  3. Has a hard time staying organized and sticking to a plan.
  4. Often forgets things, loses items, and misplaces their belongings.
  5. Often forgets daily activities and doesn’t remember what they were supposed to do today.
  6. Can’t keep attention for an extended amount of time.
  7. Doesn’t always follow direction properly and often stops working before the task is finished.
  8. Tries their best to avoid tasks that require a lot of mental or physical effort, no matter how important the task is.
  9. Always gives in to the simplest of distractions, even when the focus is necessary to complete the task-at-hand.

To be considered ADHD-PI, the individual must meet the criteria for it -- which is also spelled out in the DSM-5.

First, the individual must experience at least six of the nine symptoms listed above. Second, the symptoms need to be present for more than six months and must be present in multiple settings (home, work, school, at a friend’s house, in a restaurant).

Third, the symptoms can’t result from another mental health disorder, such as schizophrenia or a personality disorder. Fourth, the symptoms must have been present before the age of 12 (in some capacity). Finally, the symptoms need to have a clear negative impact on the individual’s life.

If all those criteria are met, healthcare professionals begin considering ADHD-PI as a possible diagnosis in the individual. Individuals may still experience hyperactivity and impulsivity, which is present in all forms of ADHD, but those symptoms are largely outweighed by the inattentive symptoms.

How To Deal With ADHD-PI Symptoms

Living with ADHD-PI is no easy task, and it takes a strong effort from the individual and their support group -- when seeking a better life. With that being said, there is a wide range of tools and resources available to help these individuals manage and relieve their symptoms.

Most people with ADHD-PI struggle with four major things in life -- distractions, organization, forgetfulness, and focus. Learning to manage your symptoms is largely dependent on how you learn to deal with these four aspects of life.

To avoid distractions, the individual must have a prime environment to work, study, do homework, and complete some of their more personal tasks throughout the day. They can also play light, soothing music in their ear and turn off phone notifications to minimize distractions.

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These individuals should try keeping a to-do list for the day, week, and month to improve organization. They should also set aside time each day to go over their plan, use a filing system for documents, utilize technology for calendars or reminders, and use sticky notes for small reminders.

If the individual is constantly forgetting things, misplacing items, or losing personal belongings, it’s best to get into a routine of keeping items in the same place. Figure out what items the individual often forgets, determine a logical place for it, then get in the habit of keeping it there.

Regarding staying focused and maintaining your attention throughout the day, try breaking large tasks up into smaller tasks. They’re easier to complete, you’ll get the same sense of reward when finished, and it’ll keep you motivated. Short breaks are okay, as long as you’re staying productive when that break is over.

Since most people living with ADHD experience their symptoms away from home, they must maintain their strategies and techniques when in school or at work. If it’s at school, you should ensure the teacher is aware of the student’s ADHD-PI symptoms to provide an environment that best suits the child.

Are There Other Types Of ADHD?

Earlier in this article, we mentioned two other types of ADHD -- combined type ADHD (ADHD-C) and predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD (ADHD-HI). These two subtypes of ADHD are extremely different from ADHD-PI and require a world of different treatments and techniques.

ADHD-HI is the opposite subtype to ADHD-PI. Instead of being dominated by inattentive symptoms, the individual is dominated by hyperactive and impulsive symptoms. They might still experience some signs of inattentiveness, but it’s the hyperactivity and impulsivity that largely impacts their life.

Much like ADHD-PI, the DSM-5 has nine major symptoms listed when diagnosing ADHD-HI, and patients must experience a minimum of six symptoms to be diagnosed with the disorder. Let’s take a quick look at the nine symptoms for this subtype:

  1. Constantly fidgeting with things, including tapping their hands or feet.
  2. Has a hard time staying seated, even when staying seated is necessary or demanded.
  3. Always wanting to climb on things, run around, and ‘jump off the walls,’ especially when it’s inappropriate to do so.
  4. Difficulty staying quiet when indulged in a task or leisure activity.
  5. Always has to be doing something, constantly-on-the-go, and always living a fast-paced lifestyle.
  6. Talking excessively, almost to a point where they’re hard to understand or follow.
  7. Often answers a question they don’t know the answer to, more out of impulse.
  8. It is difficult to wait for your turn, especially when what’s at stake is something they really want.
  9. Prone to interrupting other people mid-sentence and barging into conversations unannounced and uninvited.

In some cases, the individual experiences six or more symptoms in each subtype -- predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type (ADHD-HI) and predominantly inattentive type (ADHD-PI). This is where the healthcare professional would diagnose combined type (ADHD-C).

ADHD-C is often the hardest subtype to treat because the individual is experiencing a wide range of symptoms that affect every area of their life.

When Is It Time To Seek Professional Help?

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ADHD is a serious mental health disorder that affects millions of people each year. Whether you’re managing inattentive symptoms, hyperactive symptoms, or impulsive symptoms, you must seek help immediately to ensure the disorder doesn’t get any worse.

Early detection is often the best thing you can do for someone with ADHD or experiencing the symptoms. Even when it’s not diagnosed as ADHD, it’s never a bad idea to receive an evaluation from a proven professional in the field.

If you are diagnosed with ADHD (whether it be ADHD-HI, ADHD-PI, or ADHD-C), the healthcare professional will formulate a treatment plan unique to your symptoms and experience with the disorder. The treatment plan often utilizes a combination of therapy and medication.

When taking medication, healthcare professionals focus on maintaining a healthy balance of neurotransmitters and other chemicals inside the brain. This ensures the brain is working properly and efficiently throughout the day.

Combining medication with therapy allows the healthcare professional to correct any bad habits formed over the years. By changing the individual’s behaviors, thoughts, and overall mindset, they can start to find effective ways of managing the individual’s symptoms daily.

The longer you wait to receive help or even receive an evaluation, the longer ADHD has to negatively impact your life from a wide range of angles. That’s why early detection is often the best remedy when living with ADHD -- as well as any other mental health disorder.

Mind Diagnostics Pledges To Help

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At Mind Diagnostics, we understand the importance of mental health awareness, early detection, and ensuring everyone is given the proper tools or resources when seeking a healthier life. It’s a mission we remain dedicated to fulfilling each and every day.

That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive online ADHDtest to help people worldwide understand when it’s time to receive help for their daily symptoms. Together, we can find you the help you need to live a brighter, happier, and healthier life -- something we all deserve a shot at.

Contact us today to learn more about our mission. Otherwise, head over to our website or mobile app to take the adult ADHD test yourself! We also have a wide range of other mental health tests to ensure you’re mentally stable in all walks of life.