Dr. Amen's Six Types of ADHD

Health Writer

Most of us are familiar with the three types of ADHD that are outlined by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM):

  • ADHD - Inattentive Type
  • ADHD - Hyperactive/Impulsive Type
  • ADHD - Combined Type

These are the standard types of ADHD accepted by the general medical community and those that have probably been used when diagnosing either you or your children with ADHD.

Dr. Daniel Amen, in his book Healing ADD-The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the 6 Types of ADHD, outlines six different types of ADHD and explains that through SPECT imaging, he is able to determine which type of ADHD someone has and then treat it accordingly. This view has not been adopted or accepted by the general medical community and is considered controversial in many medical circles. Dr. Larry Silver, author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities, in a question and answer forum at Additudemag.com states, "As best I know the literature, no research has been able to confirm his theory, findings, or recommendations."

In a previous interview I had with Dr. Amen, he stated that breaking ADHD into six types rather than three and using brain imaging in the diagnostic process helps him "to target specific areas of the brain and determine what type of treatment to pursue." He views ADHD not as one disorder but as a "cluster of symptoms and these symptoms are a result of some part of the brain not functioning properly."  Some of the treatments Dr. Amen uses are lifestyle changes and supplements. He recommends ADHD medication only as a last resort, believing medication "can help some people, but can also make some people worse. " He hopes that one day the medical community will better understand and accept his imaging and it will be used as a diagnostic tool.

According to his book and website, Dr. Amen classifies ADHD in one of the following subtypes. All of these subtypes include the primary symptoms of ADHD, persistent short attention span, distractibility, disorganization, procrastination and problems with forethought, judgment and impulse control plus those symptoms listed for the particular type.

Type 1: Classic ADHD

This type of ADHD includes primary symptoms of ADHD plus hyperactivity, restlessness and impulsivity.

Type 2: Inattentive ADHD

This type of ADHD includes primary symptoms of ADHD plus low energy, lack of motivation and being internally preoccupied. He indicates this type is more common in girls and is often not diagnosed until later in life, if it is diagnosed at all.

Type 3: Overfocused ADD

This type of ADHD includes the primary symptoms listed above plus cognitive inflexibility, trouble shifting attention, negative thought processes, worrying, oppositional. This type of ADHD is frequently seen in families where there are problems with addictions or obsesesive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Type   4: Temporal Lobe ADD

Again, this type includes the primary symptoms of ADHD plus easily angered, anxiety, misinterprets comments, memory problems, dark thoughts, difficulties reading. This type may show up after a history of head injury or can be seen in families with a history of anger and violence or learning disabilities.

Type 5: Limbic ADD

In addition to the primary symptoms of ADHD, this type includes mild depression, negativity, lack of energy, low self-esteem, social problems, difficulty sleeping and poor appetite.

Type 6: Ring of Fire ADD

This type also includes the primary symptoms of ADHD in addition to mood swings, anger issues, oppositional behaviors, racing thoughts, excessive talking and sensitivity to light and sound.

You can find further information on Dr. Amen and his ADHD subtypes at AmenClinics.com.


"Ask the ADD Medical Expert: The Six Types of ADHD?" Date Unknown, Larry Silver, M.D., ADDitudemage.com

"How Brain SPECT Imaging Can Help with ADHD/ADD", Date Unknown, Dr. Daniel Amen, AmenClinics.com