What’s the Difference Between ADD and ADHD?

Wednesday, May 3

Today, many individuals still alternate between using the terms Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), even though the diagnosis of ADHD officially replaced ADD almost 30 years ago. This has led to a common conundrum of linking these separate disorders together, even though ADD and ADHD have distinct signs and symptoms associated with each.

What is ADHD?

ADHD, commonly known as attention deficit  disorder, is a behavioral condition.  It is characterized by a combination of inattention, impulsivity, and sometimes hyperactivity. Although these symptoms often occur together, it is possible for one to manifest without the others. 

While it is commonly diagnosed in childhood, ADHD is not a condition exclusive to children — an estimated 4.4% of adults have ADHD.  People with ADHD do not lack intelligence or discipline, they are just challenged at focusing to complete tasks.

What’s the difference between ADD and ADHD?

ADD, or attention deficit disorder, is an outdated term for what we now call ADHD. Some people diagnosed with ADHD exhibit hyperactive behaviors, but some don’t. The diagnosis was officially changed to ADHD in a revised third edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) released in 1994.

Although the name change occurred nearly three decades ago, people still commonly refer to the condition as ADD. The difference between ADD and ADHD is the former doesn’t include symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity.2

What are the different types of ADHD?

Three major types of ADHD include the following:

1. ADHD, combined type:

This, the most common type of ADHD, is characterized by impulsive and hyperactive behaviors as well as inattention and distractibility.

2. ADHD, inattentive and distractible type:

This type of ADHD is characterized predominately by inattention and distractibility without hyperactivity.

3. ADHD, impulsive/hyperactive type:

This is the least common type of ADHD and is characterized by impulsive and hyperactive behaviors without inattention and distractibility.

Some other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, can cause symptoms similar to ADHD, so it's important for a doctor to rule out other causes before making an ADHD diagnosis.

How therapy is beneficial for ADHD symptoms

ADHD is considered a childhood condition affecting about 5% of all children in the United States4, but some symptoms can persist into adulthood. While there is no cure, there are several treatment options, and people experiencing ADHD can lead normal and fulfilling lives.

1. Therapy:

Two common types of therapy to treat ADHD are behavioral therapy, and executive function training, or social skills training. The goal of behavioral therapy is to learn or strengthen positive behaviors while eliminating unwanted or concerning behaviors, and executive function training is to improve organizational skills and self-monitoring.

2. Medication:

ADHD medications “work by increasing the levels of chemicals (neurotransmitters) in your brain.” They come in the form of stimulants, non-stimulants, and antidepressants. Remember, medication isn’t always necessary. Be sure to consult your care team to see if medication should be part of your treatment plan.

Find support that works for you

With proper treatment, people with ADHD can overcome their symptoms. If you or a loved one are struggling with ADHD, consult with a qualified health care professional and consider your treatment options as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. With the right support and treatment, individuals with ADHD can thrive and manage their symptoms effectively. 

SonderMind has therapists available to help you take the first step towards managing symptoms and improving your daily life – sign up and get connected in as little as 48 hours.

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