Learn The Difference Between ADD and ADHD

Today's topic is ADD vs ADHD: Is there a difference between the two disorders?

While there are differences between ADD and ADHD, the terms are often interchangeable for the sake of simplicity. Specifically, ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The term ADD was used first, starting in 1980. In 1994, however, the American Psychiatric Association (the organization that creates the diagnostic criteria for mental illnesses) expanded the terminology as a result of expanded research and knowledge (American Psychiatric Association, 2008).

The American Psychiatric Association lists three main types of Attention Deficit Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), which is used by mental health professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, etc) to diagnose mental illnesses.

These three subtypes are based upon the symptoms: Inattentive Type, Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, or Combined Type. (See a complete list of ADHD symptoms.)

The main difference between ADD and ADHD is hyperactivity. Technically speaking, ADHD is Attention Deficit Disorder with hyperactivity. It is important to note that not all sufferers of ADHD exhibit all three subtypes. In other words, it is possible to suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder without Hyperactivity.

add vs adhd

However, as is often the case in the English language, the term that is used first tends to become entrenched in the public dialogue. As a result, the term "ADD" became more widely used by the general public.

For example, girls with the condition typically exhibit symptoms of inattention and are less likely to exhibit symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsive behavior.

However, in the end, most people simply use the term they prefer but ADHD is the current catch-all term for both conditions.

ADD vs ADHD: Conclusion

At the end of the day, the differences regarding the terms "ADD" and "ADHD" are merely technical, not major. 

The technical differences regarding ADD vs ADHD matter little as the terms are generally interchangeable. They are both generally understood by the public at large as meaning the same exact condition. They are both the shorthand way of referring to the same condition.

It may seem awkward to explain to someone “My son was diagnosed with ADHD with predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive type characteristics.” As a result, for most folks is ofter easier to simply state “My son has ADD.”

Most folks will get the gist of the condition without becoming confused about any perceived differences.

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