Predominantly Inattentive ADHD Most Common Subtype

Predominantly Inattentive sub-type of ADHD is the most common type of ADHD .

We are not quite the 99% but according to a paper published recently in Neurotherapeutics by a researcher from  the University of Colorado, the Predominantly Inattentive sub-type of ADHD is the most common type of ADHD .

Dr. E.G. Wilcutt  looked at 86 studies throughout the world in an attempts to gauge the prevalence of ADHD using the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV.   When all the study data was pooled the rate of diagnosis of ADHD (and ADHD sub-types  remained stable regardless of whether ADHD was defined by parent rating, by teacher rating, by self rating or by diagnostic procedures and  surprisingly (I am going to say it again in case you did not read it right the first time) the Predominantly Inattentive sub-type was found to be the most common type

This analysis confirms the strength of the current, DSM-IV definition of ADHD and ADHD sub-types and explains why, when the DSM-V is published in early 2013, the definition of ADHD and ADHD subtypes will likely only change at the margins.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is in the process of revising the DSM-IV(the manual used by medical providers to identify mental health conditions).  It was thought that the definition of ADHD and the ADHD subtypes might get a face lift.  This does not appear to be happening.

Predominantly Inattentive ADHD will continue to exist (like duh, according to Dr. Willcutt where would ADHD be without us???), the really sluggish among us will remain in our sub-type and will not be given their own Sluggish Cognitive Tempo designation and the Combined type will continue to be referred for treatment in greater numbers than people with the Inattentive type do.

The predominantly inattentive may be the majority but the Combined type are louder, rowdier and tend to get themselves in much more obvious trouble. They are , Dr. Willcutt reported, more likely to receive clinical services. This does not have to continue to happen and could change if teachers, parents and primary care providers were better taught to recognize Inattentive ADHD.

The great news is that once recognized, there is help on the horizon for all the subtypes of  ADHD.  New brain diagnostics are drilling down on the exact and unique brain areas and brain processes that are amiss in each of the sub-types and each individual with ADHD.  The ADHD therapy of the future will be tailor made for each of us.  The APA is leaving well enough alone as emerging diagnostic technologies will likely discover new information that will require them to revise again soon.

For now, we should bask in the glory of knowing that we are the majority and be grateful that while the changes in the DSM-V do not feel perfect, at least they do feel like home.

 2012 Jul;9(3):490-9.

The Prevalence of DSM-IV Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Meta-Analytic Review.


Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, 80309, USA,

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