What is the difference between ADHD and ADD?
Technically, ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, is not a clinical diagnosis. What most people refer to as ADD is a subset of ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V) is the clinical manual that lists every mental disorder as determined by the American Psychiatric Association. Almost all disorders are grouped into categories, and then further into subcategories. For example, Bipolar Disorder is grouped under the mood disorders category that contains several mood-related disorders. Further, Bipolar Disorder itself has separate categories, Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Those similar but separate disorders also can be broken down further to identify the severity and symptoms of the disorder (e.g., Bipolar I, severe, with psychotic features).
What people have known as ADD actually is a subset of ADHD called, “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, primarily inattentive presentation.” According the DSM V, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is:
A persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity or impulsivity that interferes with
functioning or development.
1. Inattention: Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16, or five or more for
adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6
months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:
1. Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at
work, or with other activities.
2. Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
4. Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or
duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
5. Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
6. Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period
of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
7. Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books,
tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
8. Is often easily distracted
9. Is often forgetful in daily activities.
2. Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for children
up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity
impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and
inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:
1. Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
2. Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
3. Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults
may be limited to feeling restless).
4. Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
5. Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
6. Often talks excessively.
7. Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
8. Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
9. Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)
In addition, the following conditions must be met:
Based on the types of symptoms, three presentations of ADHD can occur:
So, there’s the breakdown of ADHD. As with other mental health disorders, the rate of ADHD diagnoses continues to rise in both children and adults. Mental health counseling, medication, homeopathy, and self-regulation techniques are known to improve negative symptoms of ADHD.
If you think you or your child may have ADHD, consider speaking to a psychiatrist or mental health professional first. These people not only are trained to correctly identify ADHD in children, but also to utilize correct and evidenced-based treatments for ADHD.