ADHD vs. ADD: What's the difference? (2023)

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) is an outdated term for what experts now call Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The term ADD first appeared in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-3), a reference guide to help mental health professionals diagnose mental illness.

Experts have separated the condition into two subtypes:

  • ADD with hyperactivity
  • ADD without hyperactivity

When the American Psychiatric Association published a revised edition in 1987, they combined these two subtypes into one disorder: ADHD.

ADHD is one of the most common childhood mental illnesses today. HimCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)says that about 9.4 percent of children and teens (just over 6 million) in the United States have ADHD.

Adults can also have ADHD. after aReview 2021, nearly 2.6 percent of adults worldwide have persistent ADHD since childhood, while about 6.7 percent of adults have ADHD symptoms well into adulthood.

Because these estimates are based on reported symptoms and diagnoses, some believe that the actual prevalence of ADHD may be higher.

Experts have identified three types of ADHD based on the main symptoms:

  • inattention
  • impulsivity and hyperactivity
  • a combination of inattention and hyperactivity

inattentive type

ADD originally described the inattentive form of ADHD.

A doctor or psychiatrist may have diagnosed ADD when someone has persistent symptoms of inattention and absent-mindedness, but few signs of hyperactivity or impulsivity. Now, they will most likely diagnose ADHD with a predominantly inattentive presentation.

Symptoms of the inattentive type include:

  • slight distraction
  • oftento forgetin daily life
  • Difficulty paying attention to details or listening when others speak
  • difficultyconcentrationin tasks or activities
  • Difficulty following directions and completing tasks as directed
  • a tendency to lose focus or drift awayeasy
  • Difficulty organizing or managing time
  • tendency to procrastinate or avoid tasks that require long periods of mental effort, such as B. Homeworkor work projects
  • habit of losing vital items needed for daily routines and activities

These signs can appear at school, at work, at home or in personal relationships.

With this type of ADHD, you (or your child) may:

  • Difficulty keeping track of special dates, such as birthdays and anniversaries, as well as due dates for work orders and bill payments
  • find it difficult to complete tasks on time andmoveon schoolwork, assignments, or even projects you enjoy
  • has difficulty paying attention to things that interest him, such as the latest book in a favorite series or a description of a recent trip taken by a friend
  • often makes mistakes at work

hyperactive guy

This type of ADHD, also called the hyperactive-impulsive type, includes symptoms of both hyperactivity and impulsivity.

The main symptoms include:

  • Difficulty sitting still, staying still, or staying still in one place
  • talk excessively
  • Difficulty waiting patiently or taking turns
  • frequent fidgeting, writhing or tapping of hands and feet
  • Difficulty sitting still at school, work, or other situations
  • persistent feelings of restlessness, which may manifest as a tendency to run or climb in inappropriate situations
  • Difficulty playing quietly or participating in recreational activities
  • the habit of finishing other people's sentences or giving an answer before someone asks a question
  • habit of interrupting other people, interfering with conversations and activities, or using other people's property without permission

These symptoms also appear in various areas of life. For example, you could:

  • need to pace around the room or move around a lot, or feel like you can't stop moving
  • Difficulty waiting in long lines, in traffic jams or at appointments
  • interfere with your own thoughts and ideas when others are talking
  • Make decisions or buy impulsively
  • having emotional outbursts or having difficultiesDealing with extreme or intense emotions

combined type

People with the mixed type of ADHD have symptoms from the categories of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.

Children under age 17 must have at least 6 symptoms from each category. Adults 17 years and older must have at least 5 symptoms.

Some experts believe that the mixed type of ADHD is more common than the other two types, particularly in adults.

on aold studyof 107 adults with ADHD:

  • 62 percent of adults with ADHD had the combined type
  • 31 percent belonged to the predominantly inattentive type.
  • 7 percent had the hyperactive-impulsive type

but onelast revisionstudied the prevalence of ADHD in children and adolescents in Africa. They found evidence that combined ADHD was the onenot lessmost common type

According to data from 12 studies:

  • 2.95% of children and adolescents with ADHD were of the predominantly inattentive type
  • 2.77 percent had the hyperactive-impulsive type
  • 2.44 percent had the combined type

Parents and teachers may simply find the combined signs of ADHD easier to spot. As a result, people with the mixed type may be more likely to get the correct diagnosis because their symptoms are consistent with the behaviors most people associate with ADHD. This may give the impression that mixed ADHD is more common than other types of ADHD.

An ADHD diagnosis requires more than the core symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity.

Not only must children have 6 or more symptoms (5 or more for adults) for at least 6 months, but they must also:

  • have some symptoms before age 12
  • Having symptoms in at least two different settings, including school, home, work, with friends, or other activities
  • Have symptoms severe enough to interfere with functioning at school, work, or in social situations and impair quality of life

Before making an ADHD diagnosis, a psychiatrist will also rule out other mental illnesses, including:

  • State of mindÖanxiety disorders
  • substance use disorders
  • personality disorder
  • dissociative disorders

Parents and teachers don't always notice ADHD symptoms in children, especially when those symptoms are less obvious and don't bother others.

Survey 2020points out, for example, that inattention symptoms often go unnoticed,especially in girls, as these symptoms usually do not bother other people. An inattentive child with ADHD may seem dreamy or distant. They also seem to be focused on taking class notes, when in fact they are doodling ordelete.

Unless you receive a diagnosis in childhood, you cannot seek support unless you are struggling at work or school, or in your relationships with friends and romantic partners.

Many people with ADHD find that their symptoms improve as they age. However, if you never get the right diagnosis or treatment, you may still find these symptoms difficult to deal with. As a result, you may find that they get worse over time.

Other mental symptoms likeAnguishjDepressionnot to mention the day to daystressorsthat come with adulthood can also affect your symptoms. These factors can lead to changes in your symptoms.

In general, ADHD symptoms remain the same for children and adults. But as you take on more responsibility as an adult, your symptoms can have a bigger impact on your life.

  • As a child, it may matter less if you frequently forget appointments or lose your keys if you have parents and siblings to help you.
  • As an adult, forgetting to pay rent, losing your wallet, or frequently being late for work can have more serious consequences.

Learn more about the main signs of ADHD in adults.

You may have heard ADD (ie the inattentive type of ADHD) described as a "less severe" form of ADHD or something along those lines.

In reality, however, none of the three types of ADHD is necessarily more severe or less severe than the others.

However, the severity of symptoms can vary from person to person, even within the same family. For example, you and a sibling might have the combined type of ADHD, but one of you might have milder symptoms.

So-called "milder" inattention symptoms can still have a big impact. These symptoms shouldn't affect your behavior or behavior at school or work in an obvious way. But you may still have great difficulty concentrating, staying organized, or completing tasks correctly and on time.

These symptoms may not improve if not diagnosed and treated, so they can persist into adulthood and continue to challenge your life.

Getting the correct diagnosis and finding the best treatment for you can go a long way in effectively managing these symptoms.

Learn more about ADHD treatment options.

Psychiatrists no longer diagnose ADD. Instead, they diagnose one of three types of ADHD (inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, or mixed) based on your (or your child's) symptoms.

Sharing any symptoms you notice with your therapist or doctor can help make the correct diagnosis.

At the end of the day, whatever the treatment, the most important thing is to find a treatment that works for you.therapy,medicine, or both. Determining the type of ADHD you have can take you one step closer to finding an effective treatment.

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