Individuals diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have been classified into three subtypes: Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive (HI), Predominantly Inattentive (I), or Combined (C). I-Type individuals tend to be more lethargic, hypoactive, and often daydream or experience periods of mental confusion. “This constellation came to be labeled “sluggish cognitive tempo” (SCT); or more recently simply as attention-deficit disorder (ADD),” said Russell A. Barkley, of the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. “SCT symptoms also show a stronger association with degree of internalizing symptoms and social withdrawal and a weaker association with measures of executive functioning (EF) and state regulation.” He added, “These findings imply that the nature of the inattention seen in cases of SCT may be of a distinctly different form than that found in ADHD-C, representing a separate disorder from ADHD.” Few studies have been conducted to determine how symptoms of SCT affect adult daily functioning and overall quality of life. Therefore, Barkley surveyed 1,249 adults to determine exactly how SCT influenced various life activities, including earning potential, education and self-organization.
The participants in the study ranged in age from 18 to 96 and were evaluated for several measures. Nearly 7% had ADHD, almost 6% had SCT symptoms and over half had both. The results revealed that the SCT group had less education and earned less money than the ADHD and control groups, and also reported higher levels of impairment in education and work. “In their EF, both SCT groups reported greater difficulties with self-organization and problem solving than controls or the ADHD-only group. Otherwise, the SCT + ADHD group reported significantly greater problems with all other domains of EF than the other groups,” said Barkley. “The present findings suggest that the nature of the attention disorder associated with high levels of SCT is distinct from that arising in ADHD and likely has different demographic correlates, associations with EF deficits, and different domains of psychosocial impairment than does ADHD.” He added, “In other words, SCT is not a type of ADHD.”
Barkley, R. A. (2011, May 23). Distinguishing Sluggish Cognitive Tempo From Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0023961
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