What is the Difference Between ADHD and ADD?

The terms ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) are often used interchangeably, but they refer to what is now recognized as the same condition. The distinction between them is more historical and reflects the evolution of the understanding of the disorder over time. Here’s how they differ and relate:

  1. ADD – Historical Term:
    • ADD was the term originally used to describe the condition when it was recognized that individuals had significant trouble with attention but were not necessarily hyperactive or impulsive.
    • This term became popular in the 1980s to describe those with attention difficulties but without the hyperactivity.
  2. ADHD – Current Medical Diagnosis:
    • ADHD is now the official medical term used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals.
    • The most recent edition, DSM-5, classifies ADHD into three types:
      • ADHD, Combined Presentation: Where both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity are present.
      • ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: Previously known as ADD, where the primary challenge is inattention, with minimal or no hyperactivity or impulsivity.
      • ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: Where hyperactivity and impulsivity predominate, with less significant inattention.
  3. Shift in Understanding:
    • The shift from ADD to ADHD reflects a better understanding of the disorder’s nature, recognizing that inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity can vary greatly among individuals with ADHD.
  4. Perception and Misconceptions:
    • Some people still use ADD to describe the inattentive type of ADHD, but officially, ADD is no longer a separate diagnosis.
    • The use of ADHD helps to emphasize that the disorder includes a range of symptoms, not just hyperactivity and impulsivity but also significant issues with maintaining attention.

In summary, ADD is an outdated term that used to refer to what is now classified as one subtype of ADHD. ADHD is a more comprehensive term that covers a range of symptoms, including inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, acknowledging the diversity in how the disorder can present in individuals.

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