distractedWhat differentiates Overfocused Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) from the other five types is excessive worry.  A person with this type of ADD gets stuck in negative patterns of thoughts triggered by excessive worry and is unable to distract oneself from painful memories, situations and emotions. Like the other types of ADD, these people may appear inattentive, disorganized, hyperactive and impulsive.

Often people with Overfocused ADD will exhibit rigid behaviors similar to people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with OCD. So, Overfocused ADD is commonly misdiagnosed as OCD. However, there are two huge differences when it comes to the disorders.

excessive worry menThe first is that people with OCD will always follow through when making decisions about courses of action. A person with Overfocused ADD may not, because they are constantly focused on the decision and may be unable to choose a solution. The other major difference is that people with OCD are not impulsive. People with Overfocused ADD are impulsive. This makes sense. If a person is unable to stop obsessing about a situation or problem, they will never make a decision and never accomplish anything. For people with Overfocused ADD, I choosing a course of action is beyond their control. As a result, they depend on intuitive feelings and hunches.

is restlessness a symptom of depression Slideshow Physical Symptoms of DepressionLet’s face it. Everyone has worries. Life is stressful, so everyone struggles from time to time with negative thoughts and emotions. But there is a difference between normal amounts of stress and worry and the excessive kind. When it comes to diagnosing, the problem becomes how to determine when that worrying is excessive. To further complicate things, the amount of worrying a person can tolerate varies with every individual. It’s easy for professionals to ask a patient if their worry seems excessive to them and is interfering with their daily lives. However, people with certain forms of ADD may not realize their worrying is excessive, since there has never been any time in their lives when they worried less.

This has been my personal experience. It is also one of the reasons, I was not diagnosed with ADD stressuntil my 30s. Professionals constantly told me stress is normal, especially when it came to jobs and school. As a result, I assumed my excessive worry was normal when, in fact, it was not. Like the person with Overfocused ADD, the root problem was not the worrying, but the fact that my brain would get stuck there.

My brain is a lot like a train station and can operate several different trains of thought simultaneously. For example, it can concentrate on listening to music, having a couple of internet conversations at the same time while writing this blog. Thus, I am unable to be distracted by a task. If someone calls me on the phone, another train leaves the station.

lots of trains

Therein lies the problem when it comes to Overfocused ADD and the difficulty of diagnosing it. The person’s brain is unable to move on from a particular memory or emotion. No matter how hard they try to distract themselves or do something else, they can’t. That stressor is affecting them all the time. For example, if I was depressed that day there was no activity that could get my brain to stop obsessing abut being depressed. I had to wait it out. So, do people with Overfocused ADD.

Since my brain has always worked in this manner, I assumed everyone was just better at coping with suicidal thoughts nonstop for days at a time or panic attacks that never seemed to end. One day, I figured out it’s abnormal to have the depressed thought train going nonstop every day all day long. When I started taking medication, the background noise of all those other trains stopped. Only one train can leave my station now.

one train

Of course this opens a whole new set of problems including how does a person decide what to pay attention to and choose something to focus on?

If the core root of Overfocused ADD is an inability to distract yourself from an emotion or memory, the remaining symptoms of the disorder make sense. People with Overfocused ADD are much more likely to hold grudges, can be argumentative and oppositional during confrontation and suffer more severe form of depression and anxiety.

I hope this post sheds some light on Overfocused ADD and the particular challenges of the disorder. For more information about the six different types of ADD, visit my other posts:

Six Types of ADD: Introduction

Six Types of ADD: Classic

Six Types of ADD: Inattentive ADD


Coming up next week:

Temporal Lobe ADD


12 thoughts on “6 Types of ADD: Overfocused ADD

  1. Hi,

    You have provided me some insight into my own issue in my mind.
    I had not been officially diagnosed with ADD yet although I have just applied for an official assessment. The clinical psychologist did suggest that I have shown a number of signs of ADHD.

    Like you, I am in my 30s too, and this all came too new to me.

    Anyway, can you help me with a few questions?
    1) What medicine do you take for Over-focused ADD?
    2) What diet do you follow to help you improve your condition or reduce the symptoms?

  2. I am just trying to figure out if my son has add and what kind. I got him to do a test online and it pointed to over focused add. It seems to fit. I don’t think he realizes he worries too much but I see it. Hes a teen and this part “Overfocused ADD are much more likely to hold grudges, can be argumentative and oppositional during confrontation ” seems to fit him. And where I suffer from depression I really worry about him especially with reading the above 😦 but im going to talk to his doctor and found him a good couselor so I am hoping the rest of his teens can be more positive. Thanks for writing about your experience.

  3. I was diagnosed with Overfocused ADD at the renowned Amen Clinic, and this post is not correct at all. I am not impulsive in the least. Also, you should really cite where you’re getting your information from.

    1. Sometimes they are but sometimes they are exactly as this blogger stated….and just as all autistics are not alike even within the same diagnosis, neither is all Over focused ADHD sufferers. In fact, I believe it is my Over focused ADHD causing me to respond to this.

      Here is a listing of the Over focused ADHD symptoms based on Dr. Amen research. The article prefaced with the following:

      “Please remember that ADD/ADHD is dimensional and not categorical. There are overlaps between the different types as well as variations as to which symptoms a person has and the severity of the specific symptoms.”


      OppositionalSymptoms:Inattentive.Short attention span.Easily distracted.Disorganized loses or misplaces things.Hyperactive.Stuck in negative thoughts or behavior.Worries excessively even over things that are not important.Holds grudges.Inflexible cognitive thinking.Obsessively compulsive about the way things ought to be done.Argumentative and oppositional towards parents. May even seem to enjoy arguing.has to have his/her own way.Task oriented, has trouble shifting attention or from one activity to another.Needs things to remain the same.Often is in families with addiction problems or obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

      All the sufferers in my family, that have it to a more severe degree, are disorganized and messy at least at home, but are seemingly very organized in other settings. Yet some of the other typical symptoms are lacking.

  4. I am not impulsive or inattentive, but my niece, who likely has Overfocused ADHD more severely does have an impulsive streak of just leaving places without telling anyone, but she is very inflexible in her thinking.

  5. This is a fairy tale..stop putting out misinformation to people. One doctor says there is 6 types now automatically there is? Where is the research? Data? Please if you say Dr. Amen, I’m gonna barf. Nobody else of any type of stature in the ADD community endorses his claim, nor do the APA or the NIH. Your just propagating diagnosis that DOES NOT EXIST. Read the DSM 5 if you don’t believe me and tell me where your 6 types of ADD are? STOP IT!!!! There is only ADD with co-existing mental health conditions period. I say this as a patient was was misdiagnosed with the bullshit diagnosis “ring of fire” ADHD- yeah I blew that one up and SUFFERED with the wrong meds and treatment until I got correctly diagnosed as Bipolar and finally on the right meds after almost killing myself because the right specialist told me “ring of fire ADHD” doesn’t exist, this could have killed me….just stop it already.

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