ADD vs ADHD – Differences between Attention Defecit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Defecit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


This topic causes a lot of confusion and one of the reasons is that, up until fairly recently, the two were considered to be the same thing.

Before 1987, the term ADD was used to describe people who had a hard time concentrating, keeping still and focusing, among other symptoms. In that year, ADD was renamed as ADHD and this longer term was broken down into the following three categories:

1) Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive type

2) Predominantly Inattentive Type

3) Combined Type

The second category (Predominantly Innattentive Type) is what we now refer to as ADD. Its symptoms include concentration and listening problems, difficulty in following conversations, and losing, misplacing and/or forgetting things on a regular basis.

In Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD (which is what we now commonly refer to as ADHD), the individual may be chattery, restless, extremely impatient, fidgety all the time. He/She may also tend to interrupt when it is not appropriate and/or grab things from people (this refers more to children than to adults).

A person suffering from the combined type of ADHD will have symptoms from both categories.

So, one of the primary differences of ADD vs ADHD is the added component of hyperactivity in ADHD. The symptoms of ADD are more common in females and usually appear in children before the age of 7. Sometimes trying to figure out if the symptoms are really just a child’s behavior may be difficult. A good rule of thumb to follow is. . .if these symptoms are always present on a consistent basis, ADHD could be the culprit.

ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder affecting both children and adults – it is not a psychiatric disorder. In children, this disorder can hinder functional abilities and carry over into adulthood if not treated properly. The treatment for this disorder ranges from various types of behavioral therapies, at-home “training”, exercise, proper nutrition, and medications.

The causes of ADHD could be learning disabilities, earlier traumas, psychological problems, or even some medical conditions. Children with ADD (the inattentive type ADHD) are often overlooked as they don’t really create any problems at home or at school. But when left untreated, they tend not to do well in school and get in trouble for not following directions.

Relationships can also prove difficult for children and adults with ADD. Kids and adults with ADHD (the hyper-impulsive type) are often regarded as “moody” and tend to overreact emotionally to certain situations. This can be seen as disrespectful or arrogant.

On the positive side, children with ADD and ADHD are frequently enthusiastic, incredibly creative and imaginative, with boundless energy. Many children with this disorder are marvelously talented, both intellectually and artistically. Therapy and medications can help these individuals to harness these positive aspects and put them to good use.

For more information on ADD vs ADHD and the facts about each, feel free to check out