7 Types of ADHD | Type 6: Ring of Fire ADD

Ring of Fire ADD

YafaYafa Crane Luria
Teacher | Author | Positive Discipline Trainer
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What characterizes Ring of Fire ADD?

From Dr. Amen: While the Inattentive brain is characterized by underactivity in the Pre-frontal cortex, Ring of Fire ADD is characterized by overall hyperactive brain activity.

Possibly correlated with early bipolar disorder, allergies, or inflammation, Ring of Fire ADD is often the most intense type—overfocused symptoms such as worrying and obsessiveness, oppositional behavior, distractibility, hypersensitivity to the environment, and mood instability are common.  This type is often made much worse with stimulant medications alone.

Bipolar or ADD?

In order to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder as an adult, a person needs to have a manic episode (pressured speech, trouble sitting still, irritability, decreased need for sleep, grandiose ideas, periods of hypersexuality, extreme impulsivity, and sometimes even psychotic experiences, such as hallucinations or delusions).

People with Ring of Fire ADD do not have manic episodes—their behavior tends to be consistent over long periods of time.

  • Bipolar children tend to cycle in their mood and behavior problems.  They have times when they are awful, irritable, and aggressive, yet also have times when things are relatively normal.
  • Ring of Fire ADD kids have problems on a consistent basis.

People can have both Ring of Fire ADD and Bipolar Disorder, and some studies suggest that as many as half of the people with bipolar disorder also meet the criteria for ADD.

  • People with this type often see too much, think too much, feel too much, and sense too much—distractibility, hypersensitivity, and anxiety can be especially heightened.
  • This type is made worse with stimulant and serotonergic (serotonin enhancing) medications alone.
Traits:Ring of Fire ADD
  • Inattentive
  • Easily distracted
  • Irritable
  • Overly sensitive
  • Cyclic moodiness
  • Oppositional
  • Periods of increased talkativeness
  • May or may not be hyperactive

If you go to the Amen Clinics website, you can find SPECT Scans that show how treatment can create noticeable changes in brain function!

My experience with coaching Ring of Fire ADD

I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever coached anyone with Ring of Fire ADD. I would imagine that it would be excruciating living unmedicated with this type of ADD. The world would seem so aggressive, I think, that one might feel the need to attack or hide at any given moment.

When I taught kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, they had so little control over themselves. None of them were medicated and they were constantly looking for some stimulation. It was like they were starving for food. They would try everything to stay stimulated. The trick, as a teacher, was to help them feel stimulated by productive activities because otherwise they could tear apart a classroom!

I think this is best diagnosed by an expert and not by anyone that’s not licensed as a diagnostician. It’s easy to say, “Well, I’m sensitive to light and noise and touch,” but Ring of Fire ADHD is something else altogether. While we might resonate with some of the symptoms, what is significant is the intensity of those symptoms, and that can only be assessed by an expert.


Take this assessment to get some idea of your or your child’s type of ADD/ADHD. This is not a substitute for medication, seeing an Medical Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor, or getting the therapeutic or coaching help that you or your family might need.

(My information comes from ADDitude Magazine, Smart Kids with LD, Amen Clinics, and from my own experience as a former teacher and school counselor, and current ADHD Coach and Strategist.

xo, Yafa

Copyright 2017 Yafa Crane Luria All Rights Reserved

Yafa Crane LuriaAbout Yafa Crane Luria

Yafa Crane Luria is a 30-year veteran teacher and school counselor, a Positive Discipline Trainer, and the author of the Mom’s Choice Award®-Winning book: How To Train Your Parents in 6 ½ Days and the Amazon Kindle Best Seller: Getting Schooled: 102 Practical Tips for Parents, Teachers, Counselors, and Students about Living and Learning with ADHD. She was diagnosed with ADHD (then called “Minimal Brain Dysfunction”) in 1980, one of the first to be diagnosed as an adult. Yafa specializes in helping ADHD families who have tried everything and are still frustrated by their child’s or teen’s Blocked but Brilliant brain. Fun fact: Yafa’s nickname as a child was “Mountain Goat” because she climbed on EVERYTHING! She can be reached at her website: BlockedToBrilliant.com

To read about the other types of ADHD view all posts by Yafa Crane Luria here.



Ring of Fire ADD

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