What’s the Relationship Between Impulsivity and Attention Deficit Disorder?

Attention Deficit Disorder, Genhealthtips

Inattention, poor memory, and distractions are the main symptoms that doctors look for before creating an ADD treatment plan. Although some people still use ADHD and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) interchangeably, there are a few distinctions between these disorders. Medical professionals recognize ADD as a Predominantly Inattentive Type of ADHD. The condition that most people identify as ADHD is professionally known as Predominantly Hyperactive Type ADHD. Its characteristics include impulsiveness, impatience, and bursts of energy.

Symptomatic Differences Between ADD and ADHD

It’s harder to diagnose and conduct ADD treatment due to its lowkey symptoms. Children and adults with this disorder are prone to forgetfulness, misplacing items, and a hard time following instructions. Without a keen eye, you might dismiss them as being daydreamers, shy, or just lazy. Hyperactive ADHD is more identifiable due to the fidgeting and impulsiveness its patients show. This impatience is most noticeable in children. To make a proper diagnosis, doctors focus on the symptoms exhibited within the past six months. 

Understanding impulsivity

Impulsivity makes you act or speak without weighing the consequences. Although more prominent in kids, this aspect of ADHD is likely to afflict patients into adulthood. It has the following characteristics:

  • You fidget when you should be sitting still in critical scenarios such as company meetings and exam rooms. You unconsciously play with your hair, tap the desk, or move your feet.
  • You get easily bored and crave excitement.
  • You purchase items you don’t necessarily need, even when you can barely afford them.
  • You have a hard time sleeping because your mind can’t stay calm. 
  • Even though you perform various tasks, you rarely complete any.
  • You feel a strong urge to move even while relaxing. You also have difficulty queuing for services.
  • While driving, you maneuver suddenly without signaling. Your family or friends regularly complain that you speed.
  • You experience difficulty in understanding or controlling your emotions. 
  • You’re known for speaking your mind and finishing other people’s sentences while conversing. Your family, friends, or acquaintances frequently complain that you monopolize conversations. Some think you’re rude because your unsolicited opinions hurt their feelings.

Your ADD treatment plan wouldn’t be complete without understanding the symptoms of inattention. They include trouble listening, distractions, forgetfulness, and reluctance to do some tasks. 

What causes impulsivity?

It’s not always easy to pinpoint the causes of impulsivity because the decision-making process is complicated. Research shows that the brain’s prefrontal lobe may affect this behavior. They’re also conducting further studies on the connection between impulsivity and brain function, as well as personality. Although anyone can exhibit impulsive behavior, frequent episodes could be a sign of disorders such as ADD. Risk factors include genetics, brain injury, childhood trauma, and chemical changes in the brain due to substance abuse. Your environment could also have an impact.

Managing impulsivity during ADD treatment

The following interventions are effective in treating disorders that involve impulsivity:


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) helps you build skills that improve the ability to reflect before acting. Coping mechanisms equip you to avoid confrontations by managing intense emotions. DBT also teaches the concept of mindfulness, which makes you more aware of the present. You can evaluate your options and make rational decisions instead of acting on impulse. DBT is a subset of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It focuses on the social and emotional aspects of psychotherapy.


Pharmacological Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) treatment shows positive results in managing impulsivity. Medications include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Physicians may prescribe them in combination with low doses of antipsychotics in instances where patients exhibit extreme behavior. Various drug categories specifically manage impulsivity. They include atypical antipsychotics such as Abilify and mood stabilizers. Apart from impulsivity, they also help in controlling associated emotions such as Seizure and anxiety.

These treatment methods work best when implemented together. Your prescription will be more effective if you follow it while seeing a psychotherapist who specializes in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).   

How to cope with impulsivity?

Other than therapy and medication, you can take some steps to help you manage this condition. By performing a chain analysis, you can figure out the triggers and avoid such circumstances in the future. Apart from family and friends, support groups can also help you cope. Interacting with people who can empathize with your situation will motivate you to stick to your ADD treatment plan. Another solution involves incorporating deep breathing techniques. They reduce impulsive behavior by regulating your mood and managing stress. Finally, adopt healthy activities that reduce the chances of impulsivity. They include journaling, going for walks, and opening up to a trusted friend or loved one.


Once you understand how impulsivity affects your mental health, your ADD treatment is more likely to have positive results. Apart from improving your wellbeing, your personal and professional relationships will also benefit. You’ll avoid actions that could lead to lawsuits and other costly consequences. Please join a support group near you for more assistance. 

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