We often use the terms ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) interchangeably, and this can lead to confusion about their differences.

They do share some similarities, but they are actually distinct conditions with unique characteristics. Understanding how they are different is critical for accurate diagnosis and, hopefully, effective treatment.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, meaning it is tied to how the brain has developed over time. It is characterized by three core symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADD, on the other hand, is a rather outdated term that has been used to describe individuals that exhibit inattention without hyperactivity or impulsivity. To make matters even more confusing, medical professionals now tend to use the term ADHD to describe actual ADHD and all of its subtypes, including those with predominantly inattentive symptoms.

The primary distinction between ADHD and ADD is how symptoms present themselves. Individuals with ADHD typically exhibit both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Individuals with ADD experience only inattentive symptoms.

An important difference between the two is that ADHD often becomes noticeable during childhood. The hyperactive and impulsive behaviors are oftentimes disruptive in both school and social settings. Those with ADD may go undetected for a longer period of time since the symptoms are less obvious and often mistaken for daydreaming or disinterest.

Treatment for ADHD and ADD differ slightly. Both conditions can benefit from behavioral therapy and counseling. ADD treatments might lean on cognitive strategies to strengthen attention and organization skills. ADHD may require additional management through medication to address the hyperactivity and impulsivity.

It is essential to recognize that ADHD is what is called a ‘spectrum disorder’. Individuals can display varying degrees of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. This is why the term ADHD is more widely used these days to encompass the full range of symptoms, including the previously labeled ADD.

ADHD and ADD are related, yet not identical. ADD is a subtype of ADHD; it can be thought of as basically ADD with a proclivity for hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Understanding the differences is important. It allows for early identification, accurate diagnosis, and the development of tailored treatment plans.

Taconic Psychiatry is Manchester Center’s most trusted psychology practice. If you think you may benefit from therapy for ADHD, please reach out to our team. Our offices are in Manchester Center and we provide services to Manchester Center, Bennington, Rutland, and to all of Vermont via online therapy services.