What is the Cause of Inattentive ADHD

The cause of Inattentive ADHD used to be a total mystery. Psychiatrist would tell patients and parents that no one knew for sure what caused ADHD. Some psychiatrist still tell patients and parents this but the truth is that we know a lot more about what causes Inattentive ADHD today then we did even a year ago.

There is a great book on the causes of ADHD  and I will mention it at the end of this post but let me give you the basic of what we know, so far,  of the causes of Inattentive ADHD.

There is no one cause of Inattentive ADHD. There are thought to be many factors that contribute to this problem. Researchers, over the past 60 years have been exploring the causes of ADHD and now know that what is happening in the brain is a complex interplay of many factors including:

  • Genetic factors
  • Neurotransmitter factors
  • Brain factors
  • Environmental Exposure factors
  • Dietary factors
  • Lifestyle factors
  • Maternal and Fetal factors

There is not one gene that causes Inattentive ADHD (ADHD-PI). There are many genes that can lead to these Inattentive and disorganization symptoms. It will take many years to sort out the genetics of Inattentive ADHD but it looks as though the genetic picture of someone with Inattentive ADHD in China will look different from the genetic picture of someone with ADHD-PI from Chicago or from Iran. We also now know that there is not likely just one gene but perhaps several that can all cause symptoms of Inattentive ADHD.

There is not one or two neurotransmitters amiss when it comes to the cause of Inattentive ADHD. It is now believed that perhaps many or all the neurotransmitters and their receptors may be working improperly. We once believed that dopamine and norepiniphrine malfunctions were the main problems causing ADHD symptoms. Dopamine problems caused impulsive behavior and hyperactivity and norepinephrine malfunctions caused inattentiveness. We now know that dopamine, norepinephrine, glutamate, serotonin, and maybe a neurotransmitter known as PEA all may contribute to the symptoms of Inattentive ADHD.

There is not one environmental toxin that cause Inattentive ADHD, there have been many environmental factors that have been found to cause Inattentive ADHD. Some of the factors include include pesticides, lead exposure, fetal alcohol exposure, fetal nicotine exposure, exposure to maternal depression and exposure to maternal stress to name a few. Recently I read a study that cited Pitocin ( a drug widely used during pregnancy and labor to induce delivery) as increasing the risk of ADHD.

There is not one dietary factor that may be a cause of Inattentive ADHD, there are several. Omega-3 fatty acids, Zinc and Magnesium deficiencies have been found in children with ADHD and one study found that as many as 30% of kids with ADHD may have allergies to food dyes or other foods such as eggs, wheat or milk.  According to several studies, children with low protein diets are also more likely to have ADHD symptoms .

Lifestyle factors such as exercise, avoiding oxidants such as excess alcohol and nicotine, brain training activities such as cross word puzzles and cognitive practice as well as drinking coffee, green tea and some natural herbs such as Bacopa Monieri have also been found in studies to help ameliorate the symptoms of ADHD-PI.  One study found that the oxidant level in the brain of people with ADHD was abnormally high.  Researchers have yet to understand what causes these abnormal oxidant levels but substances such as green tea, coffee and Bacopa (which are antioxidants) may help Inattentive ADHD by normalizing the brain's oxidant status.

It would be nice to find one tidy cause of Inattentive ADHD.  If ADHD-PI was like Strep throat, we could kill the Strep and be done with it.  This is not to be, there will not be one quick cure found for Inattentive ADHD.

As you can see, the causes of  Inattentive ADHD not only numerous, they are also multifaceted. Researchers are moving quickly in their quest to unravel the causes of this problem and they have learned quite a bit. Unfortunately, there is still quite a bit left to learn.

Dr. Joel Nigg has written an excellent and easy to read book on the causes of ADHD.  His book is:
What Causes ADHD?: Understanding What Goes Wrong and Why.

If you have found this post useful, please pass it on and also put your fabulous face up in that right hand corner so that when other folks stop by they can see what an attractive group we are!! Thanks for reading.


  1. I have it very bad. Is there a place I can volunteer to help in finding the cure or treatment?

  2. Thanks for writing. The National Institutes of Health has a list of clinical trials that are ongoing and looking for subjects to research. The link is here:


    Nice to hear from you! Tess

  3. I wish I read more about ADHD, I have been very sick lately and as you can imagine combined with ADHD have virtually no focus whatsoever.
    At least focus that requires actual cognition as opposed to reiterating things I've thought about before and are stored in long-term memory.
    Anyways I wish I read more about ADHD so I could have a more complete understanding of it's suspected cause/causes.
    To me it makes absolute perfect sense; ADHD is not the next stage of evolution as many rejected individuals of various disorders delude themselves into believing but it is long past phase of evolution that was relevant thousands of years ago. And this limited theory(I sadly admit to using wikipedia) is shown some credibility in the differing rates of adhd by nation correlated to it's culture and how long the nation has existed as a body of people.
    Anyways the point is that ADHD is the hunter mind. The hunter cannot afford to lose his prey so he must constantly shift attention, he must constantly search the horizon for threats. He must move and think fast. He cannot afford to be slow and patient like today's "farmer" evoution. It would also explain the unique intuitive talent of adhders. I think the reason behind intuition is simple it's a per-concious assimilation of relevant facts in that situation supported by one's own knowledge/intelligence and quickly produced in a "blink". This skill would of course be absolutely necessary for the hunter.

  4. Your theory is very close to the African Nomad therory of ADHD and is very interesting. The African Nomad theory is that it was evolutionarily adventatious to be continuosly on the move so folks with ADHD had better diets and weighed more so were more likely to pass on their genes. Thanks for your comments!


  6. hi, i went untreated for add pi for over 20 years. now i'm trying adderall and it has resulted in causing tremors in brain on my left hemisphere. even when i'm not taking adderall it still tremors. usually before the treatment my left side of brain didnt seem like functioning well, theres always have been huge strain like feeling on it when getting words out of my memory or taking part in conversations. any idea what this could be? thanks

  7. I am not sure what you mean by "tremors in the left hemisphere" but I think that you most certainly need a full neurological evaluation as ADHD and ADD do not cause tremors. There ARE however conditions that are misdiagnosed as ADHD that can cause tremors. The link to the conditions that are misdiagnosed as ADHD can be found at:


    Most universities with Medical Schools have excellent Neurology departments. If you live by a major university, this is where I would try and get an appointment.

    Let me know if I can help in any other way. Tess

  8. You receive the money you may need; you keep the car which usually most of us have a tendency to merely retain the identify installment loans towards car until the financial products can be paid for fully, with that will period your identify can be arrived back totally free in addition to clear.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.