What Is ADHD PI?

By Patricia Oelze|Updated July 8, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Karen Devlin, LPC

ADHD-PI is one of three types of ADHD. So, before we further define ADHD-PI, we should define what ADHD is. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that causes inattentiveness and hyperactivity. There are three different types of ADHD. It is a medical condition that is characterized by differences in the brain and nervous system that affect behavior, concentration, and the ability to sit still. This is a very common disorder, with symptoms that typically arise in elementary school. In fact, approximately 10% of American children have been diagnosed with ADHD. But what is causing it?

Causes Of ADHD

Interested In Learning About The Type Of ADHD Your Child Has?

The cause of ADHD is still not completely understood, but certain biological issues are generally thought to be the cause, with environmental factors contributing to the severity of symptoms over time. Even though researchers do not know exactly what causes ADHD, there are a few risk factors that make it more likely for someone to have the disease. Boys are three times more likely to get ADHD than girls, so gender is a factor. Also, genetics can play a part, as there is a strong connection between family mental health history and ADHD. In fact, the possibility of getting ADHD increases three to eight times if a parent or sibling has the disorder. There have been many studies done that show twins who grew up in different households both have the condition. The measurement of heritability of ADHD is approximately 0.76, which makes it highly heritable. Some of the other risk factors include:

  • Exposure to pollution, heavy metals, or other toxins
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Medical disorders such as neurological conditions
  • Other mental conditions
  • Not getting the correct nutrition during pregnancy or infancy
  • Chemical exposure such as using alcohol, doing drugs, or smoking during pregnancy

Symptoms Of ADHD

It is true that ADHD presents as a child who is easily distracted and cannot sit still. However, there are many other symptoms of ADHD to look for such as:

  • Cannot play quietly by themselves
  • Interrupts others
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Will not sit still in class
  • Poor organizational skills
  • Fidgeting, moving hands and feet, or squirming
  • Unable to follow orders
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Often distracted and forgetful
  • Unfinished schoolwork or tasks
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Loses things often
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Restlessness
  • Talks too much

Types Of ADHD

Recently, experts have found that there are three different types of ADHD. These include the hyperactive-impulsive type, predominantly inattentive type, and combination type. While they have similar symptoms, they also have specific signs that separate them from each other.

Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, also known as ADHD-PH, is the most common and presents as someone who has a hard time sitting still, talks out of turn often, and squirms or fidgets often. They seem to have an unlimited amount of energy and no off button. Whether corrected or not, they do not consider the consequences of their actions.

Predominantly Inattentive ADHD

This type of ADHD is known for causing distraction and lack of concentration. They may lose things often and may be very unorganized. It causes them to lose focus on things as they seem to just be daydreaming all the time. The individual may be mistakenly labeled as lazy or not motivated.

Combination ADHD

Those with combination ADHD have some symptoms from both of these ADHD types. They may show signs of hyperactivity for an extended period of time, along with inattentive signs, or they may switch off and on from one to the other.

What Is ADHD-PI?

ADHD-PI is the same thing as predominantly inattentive ADHD. The PI stands for predominantly inattentive. Although this is the least common of the ADHD, it is still pretty common. With this type of ADHD, your child will likely have a short attention span, forgetfulness, and issues with procrastination. In some children, it also causes fatigue, lethargy, or sluggishness. According to the DSM-5, the criteria for this type include:

  • Forgetting daily activities
  • Getting distracted easily
  • Loses things needed for school or other tasks
  • Cannot do things that take a lot of mental concentration
  • Lack of organizational skills
  • Does not remember the instructions given to them for chores or schoolwork
  • Trouble paying attention when playing games or interacting with others
  • Makes careless mistakes in school or play

If you are an adult with ADHD-PI, you may notice things a bit differently such as:

  • Compensating by becoming obsessive
  • Hoarding
  • Trouble learning new things
  • Processing information slower than others
  • Difficulty finding misplaced items
  • Forgetting instructions, obligations, or appointments
  • Seeming to daydream or ignore others
  • Lack of attention when having a conversation
  • Feeling distracted or out of it
  • Fatigue due to struggling to pay attention
  • Having to reschedule dates or other plans because you forgot
  • Poor listening skills
  • Hesitating with responses due to lack of remembering things
  • Getting bored easily
  • Missing important details
  • Trouble finishing things
  • Gets overwhelmed easily

What ADHD-PI Is Not

In older children or adults, ADHD-PI is often seen as someone with a mood disorder or anxiety and can also be seen as a learning disorder in children. A main sign that someone has ADHD-PI is that they lack the hyperactive symptoms. This is similar to what the experts used to refer to as ADD, or attention deficit disorder. The main signs of hyperactive ADHD include:

  • Constantly moving
  • Fidgeting, tapping, or bouncing
  • Disrupts others around them
  • Trying to talk over others who are talking
  • Cannot play quietly or alone
  • Trouble getting along with others
  • Refusing to wait their turn
  • Lack of impulse control
  • Gets in trouble in school often

In fact, someone with ADHD-PI may seem slower than others, or more withdrawn. They may seem depressed or anxious, keeping to themselves when unsure of their actions or knowledge due to forgetting instructions. This type of ADHD can mimic social anxiety or depression. In fact, it may be comorbid with anxiety or depression as many who have ADHD are more susceptible to other types of mental health issues.

Interested In Learning About The Type Of ADHD Your Child Has?

Diagnosing ADHD-PI

Because ADHD-PI is so often undiagnosed, it often goes untreated for years; and by the time you notice it, you may be an adult who is wondering why you are constantly forgetting things, get distracted easily, and lose your keys or phone all the time. You may not even consider ADHD at all because you do not have the typical signs of being overactive, not being able to sit still, and being disruptive. However, since ADHD-PI does not have those symptoms, being seen by a professional is even more important.

See Your Doctor

Your primary caregiver or physician should be seen first as you need to be checked for other medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, which can also present these symptoms. One of the tests that may help them diagnose ADHD includes an ADHD brain scan. These help the doctor take a look at the inside of your brain with neuroimaging. They are looking for activity in the brain in certain areas when you are doing particular activities. This is a painless and easy test that is noninvasive and can be done in minutes, similar to a typical x-ray.

Speak To A Mental Health Expert

Once your doctor has cleared you of other physical ailments, you may want to consider seeing a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, therapist, or counselor. Just by talking to them, they can determine whether you need further testing such as cognitive, memory, and intelligence tests. There are some online tests that you can take that help you know whether or not you need to see a professional, but they are not a replacement for seeing a professional.

Treatments For ADHD-PI

In many cases, therapy is the best solution. Just speaking to a professional about what is going on in your life and finding ways to overcome your obstacles caused by ADHD-PI may be all you need. However, if you have a severe case of ADHD-PI or comorbidity with depression or anxiety, medication may be needed as well. This has to be prescribed by a psychiatrist or doctor as your therapist is not able to prescribe medication. However, they can refer you to someone near you that you can see right away.

Understanding ADHD With BetterHelp

Studies show that online therapy platforms can provide useful tools for helping to manage symptoms often associated with ADHD. For example, in a study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating adults with ADHD, finding that participants experienced significantly reduced symptoms (with positive results being sustained at a six-month follow-up). These findings are similar to those from a number of recent studies outlining the positive effects of online CBT. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a widely accepted form of treatment that works by helping individuals reframe negative thought patterns that may be underlying certain behaviors or feelings, such as ADHD-related concentration or distraction problems.

The licensed counselors at BetterHelp know how to provide you with proven methods that will help you manage the symptoms of ADHD. Read below for counselor reviews, from those who have experienced similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

“Kenneth is a spectacular and very understanding counselor. I really appreciate that he genuinely understands my experiences with ADHD, as well as anxiety and depression, and gives me very helpful, step by step, plans to overcome my issues and get to the root of them. I also greatly appreciate that he is great at validating and giving me a safe space to talk and not feel judged, but rather empowered and happy! I highly recommend him!”

“Tasha has been amazing in the few months I've worked with her, and she's really helped me a lot! She's been really patient with me and with the technical issues that arise sometimes, and she's always a listening ear and a great "common sense" voice that has helped me a lot during times of anxiety or depressive episodes. She's helped me a lot with all the useful info and worksheets she's provided with techniques and information on calming techniques, challenging my catastrophic thought processes, and dealing with my ADHD. Tasha is really great!! I've loved talking to and working with her.” 


If you are experiencing ADHD-PI, you have options for how to move forward. A therapist can help you organize yourself, practice concentration methods, and teach you new ways to listen to others. In talking through your problems, finding what you need to work on, and finding solutions, you can be feeling better in no time.

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