Understanding Dr. Daniel Amen's 6 Types of ADD

Dr. Daniel Amen educates companies, organizations, and individuals on the importance of brain health and the impact of the brain on every aspect of life.

Daniel G. Amen, MD is a physician, child and adult psychiatrist, brain imaging specialist, Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and medical director of the Amen Clinics in California, Washington, and Virginia. He is a bestselling author of 28 books, including Healing ADD: The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the 6 Types of ADD.

Though the standard for assessing and diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) used by mental health professionals in the United States is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM), which identifies three subtypes of ADHD (the predominately inattentive type, the hyperactive-impulsive type, and the combined type), Dr. Amen uses a diagnostic and treatment approach based on six distinct types of ADD.

Dr. Amen's 6 Types of ADD

Type 1. Classic ADD (ADHD) -- inattentive, distractible, disorganized, hyperactive, restless, and impulsive.

Type 2. Inattentive ADD -- inattentive and easily distracted, but not hyperactive; sluggish, slow moving, low motivation, and often described as space cadets, daydreamers, couch potatoes.

Type 3. Overfocused ADD - inattentive, trouble shifting attention, frequently get stuck in loops of negative thoughts or behaviors, obsessive, excessive worrying, inflexible, frequent oppositional and argumentative behavior. May or may not be hyperactive.

Type 4. Temporal Lobe ADD - inattentive, irritable, quick temper, aggressive, dark thoughts, mood instability, and severe impulsivity. May or may not be hyperactive.

Type 5. Limbic ADD - inattentive, chronic low grade depression, negativity, "glass half empty syndrome," low energy, and frequent feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.

May or may not be hyperactive.

Type 6. Ring of Fire ADD - inattentive, extreme distractibility, angry, irritable, overly sensitive to noise, light, clothes and touch; often inflexible, cyclic moodiness, hyperverbal, and opposition. May or may not be hyperactive.

According to Dr. Amen, understanding the nuanced complexities of each of these six subtypes allows for more effective and targeted treatment for children and adults with ADHD.

You can learn more about Dr. Amen's approach in his book Healing ADD.

A Personal Connection

If you are a parent of a child with ADHD, it often helps to hear from other parents about their own experiences loving and raising a child with ADHD. Knowing that you are not alone in the challenges, frustrations, and uncertainties that parenting a child with special needs can bring about is often very comforting and reassuring.

Over the last 20 years, Dr. Amen has provided treatment to tens of thousands of patients with ADHD. He also has a very personal connection as a father of four children, two of whom have ADHD. Dr. Amen is passionate about helping people with ADHD because he understands the pain it can cause in their lives. He shares one of his favorite family stories to which many parents can relate:

"Breanne, my oldest daughter, was the perfect child. She was always easy, always sweet, her room was always clean and her homework always done. If I only had Breanne, I would have been a terrible child psychiatrist. I would have thought that she was so wonderful because I was such a good dad. Well, God knew I was like that, so God gave me Kaitlyn.

Hyperactive from before birth. We thought Kaitlyn was going to be a boy, because the lore is that the more active a baby is inside his mother's womb, the more likely he is to be a boy. Well, she wasn't. Trying to hold Kaitlyn when she was a year old was like trying to hold a live salmon.

Have you ever seen children on little yellow leashes in the mall? After having Kaitlyn, I believed in little yellow leashes because she was always trying to get away. But my problem was that I wrote a column in the local newspaper where I lived and whenever I went to the mall people would recognized me and say things like, 'Hey, you are Dr. Amen, I loved your column.' I just could not deal with, 'Hey, you're Dr. Amen, why is your child on a leash?' So what I used to do with Kaitlyn was put her in her stroller and tie her shoes laces together so she couldn't get out. Now I am not proud of that, but when you have a hyperactive child, you do things just to survive.

Kaitlyn now has 7 month old Liam, who is as active as his mother!"


Dr. Daniel G. Amen, interview/email correspondence, January 11, 2012.

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