What is the Difference Between ADD and ADHD?

Do you ever wonder how it is possible that various sicknesses can still afflict humanity today? Many new illnesses occur, and it seems that most of them are incurable even though our persistent scientists are exerting all their efforts to discover a treatment.

You see, some of these ailments are treacherous, destroying their victims’ lives in an instant, and crushing dreams in a snap. Let’s tackle those that are not so famous in the lists but will surely affect the patient’s future: ADD and/or ADHD. First, what is the difference between ADD and ADHD?

Brief History

It was as early as the 1900s when a British pediatrician detected this disorder. According to his study, the affected children were not behaving normally, i.e., not behaving as a typical kid would do.

He observed that these kids could not control their movements and would display signs of hyperactivity. Deriving it from its symptoms, he named the disorder as “Hyperkinetic Impulse Disorder,” but it was not until the 1980s that scientists changed the name to ADD or as we all know it, “Attention-Deficit Disorder.”

You think that was the final revision? Well, think again.

After conducting numerous studies, they discovered that the syndrome was categorized by its symptoms, the most distinctive or characteristic being hyperactivity, thus giving rise to the new term ADHD, famously known today as “Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.”

Trying to answer the question “what is the difference between ADD and ADHD?” one can identify the difference with the aid of a single factor, which is the existence/absence of hyperactivity in the patient. If the affected child/adult shows manifestations of being impulsive, we call that ADHD. Thus, the same syndrome without hyper-activeness is described as ADD.

ADD was documented as the recognized name in the 1980s. ADHD was discriminated as a separate term from 1994.

A person can still call it ADD when there is hyper-activity in the patient, but doctors will effortlessly understand. Thanks to our modern research, we have more information relating to this disorder.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is an organization composed of scientists, doctors, and professionals working in the field of psychiatry in the United States of America. This organization elaborated the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It wasn’t until the 1980s that ADD was recognized to be part of the list under DSM-III.

Let’s look more closely at their characteristics.

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

• Patient is typically quiet

• Calm

• Not disruptive

• Often appears shy

• Patients are often described as daydreamers

• Unmindful of the tasks that don’t interest them

Absence of hyperactivity

ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

1. Patients are inattentive/predominantly inattentive – this type of characterization already suggests a kind of hyperactivity. Other signs and symptoms include but are not limited to:

• Being easily forgetful about things

• The patient loses focus in an instant

• Failure to meet deadlines at school or work

• Inadequate with chores

• Patients are sometimes described as “deaf” due to inattention to speakers in a close conversation

• The patients hate involving themselves in tasks that necessitate an extended period of time

• Dislike following instructions

• The absence of the kind of dynamic personality needed to accomplish given assignments

2. Hyperactive and Impulsive / Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive: Patients diagnosed with ADHD are often described as people who are not able to control their actions or movements in the way an average person would do. Among the signs and symptoms we could mention are:

• The patient talks fast and excessively in a conversation

• Always moving continuously and uncontrollably

• Unable to pay attention to activities

• Usually reacts more quickly than needed

• Fails to remain quiet or to behave according to instructions

• No patience in waiting

• Taps objects uncontrollably

• Hand and foot movements are continual

• Interrupts a speaker during a conversation

3. Combined Type – Displaying both Inattention and Hyperactivity Symptoms

ADHD became significantly present as early as the 1990s. Both adults and kids are susceptible. It has been stated that 6.4 million American kids are diagnosed with this disorder. It is probable that children are more inclined to this ailment. Adults may be diagnosed later in life when the illness occurs due to hard work, depression and mid-life crisis.

Through the years, researchers have continually discovered new means to understand the ailment and introduce a cure. As studies develop, we the general audience, are lucky enough to have been informed of the actual cause and the treatments we can apply to combat this disorder. According to research, the ailment is likely genetically linked. If you have a family member that is diagnosed with ADHD, it is more likely that, if not you, then your kids or the generations succeeding yours, will develop the disorder.


An ordinary mom with a child affected by ADHD would often say that one of the leading causes of the disease is related to environmental factors, such as excessive use of gadgets. Although there are no explicit clinical claims concerning this factor, doctors are somewhat inclined to accept that this aspect can be useful in the investigation of the origins of the illness. Other elements, according to research, include but are not limited to:

• Babies who were born prematurely

• Smoking and use of alcohol during pregnancy

• Inherited genes

• Traumatic brain injury

• Gender

• Smaller / less active brain

• Chemical dopamine in the brain, responsible for movement, temperament, learning capabilities and responsiveness.


Treatment should start with the correct identification of the symptoms. With the aid of a professional, the patients must recognize if they are dealing with ADD or ADHD. Some ailments, like depression, are very likely to be misidentified as ADD. In the case of depression, the patient is expected to display an unwillingness to learn and move; also he is quiet and reluctant to assume tasks. However, this condition is not necessarily related to ADD. Education about the disorder is the key to successfully combatting it. As soon as you learn about the pros and cons of ADHD, you will get to know the essential step-by-step guide to its treatment. Treatments include but are not limited to:

• Therapy (works well with family treatment)

• Medications (always with proper supervision)

• Group sessions (finding a group that you’ll be most comfortable with)

Self-improvement (living a healthier lifestyle etc.)

• Psychological help (seeking professional help).

Having a positive approach towards ADHD/ADD is essential. It is also helpful to educate people regarding its identification and, once the ailment is established, to help them fully understand its possible advantages and disadvantages.

A doctor once said that ADHD could be your best companion towards a prosperous future, or it could be your worst nightmare if not handled properly. Others will wrongly be judgmental about it, due to lack of knowledge, and may apply a mistaken treatment. As stated, one of the most significant factors that is causing ADHD is dealing with a life crisis.

Once you dig deeper and see the main root of the problem, you will be able to stand and fight to oppose the disorder. Family treatments are more likely to be effective. Why? It’s because we express our real mood more comfortably within our family. We more easily reveal our feelings, and that’s what’s needed the most. If you were diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, you should try to accept it: the real question in this situation is then not what is the difference between ADD and ADHD but what you really can do to harmonize your life with this peculiar condition.

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