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ADD vs ADHD, What Are The Differences In Symptoms?


ADD vs ADHD Overview

When it comes to attention deficit disorders, the terms ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are often used interchangeably. However, understanding the nuances between these two conditions is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. In this article, we will delve into the key differences in symptoms between ADHD vs ADD, shedding light on the distinct characteristics and challenges associated with each. By exploring the contrasts in ADD vs ADHD symptoms and behaviors, we hope to provide clarity for individuals, parents, and professionals navigating the complex landscape of attention-related disorders.

Difference between ADD and ADHD

The difference between ADD and ADHD lies in their primary symptoms and diagnostic criteria. While both conditions are characterized by difficulties with attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, they manifest in distinct ways.

ADD, also known as ADHD, predominantly inattentive presentation, primarily involves challenges with sustaining attention, organization, and task completion. Individuals with ADD may struggle with staying focused, following instructions, and organizing their thoughts. They may appear daydreamy, forgetful, and easily distracted, leading to academic, professional, and personal difficulties.

ADHD, on the other hand, encompasses both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. In addition to attention difficulties, individuals with ADHD experience excessive restlessness, fidgeting, and a constant need for movement. They may also exhibit impulsive behaviors, such as speaking without thinking, interrupting others, and taking risks without considering the consequences.

Individuals with ADHD Inattentive type may have difficulty sustaining attention, organizing tasks, following instructions, sitting still, and controlling impulses.
Individuals with ADHD Inattentive type may have difficulty sustaining attention, organizing tasks, following instructions, sitting still, and controlling impulses.

ADHD Fact Sheet

Prevalence: ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders, affecting approximately 5-10% of children and 2-5% of adults worldwide. It is more commonly diagnosed in males than females.

Core Symptoms: The core symptoms of ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Individuals with ADHD may have difficulty sustaining attention, organizing tasks, following instructions, sitting still, and controlling impulses.

ADHD is categorized into three subtypes:

a. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: Primarily characterized by difficulties with attention and organization.

b. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: Primarily characterized by hyperactivity and impulsivity.

c. Combined Presentation: Displays symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.

Diagnosis of ADHD: This involves a comprehensive evaluation, including interviews with the individual, parents (for children), and teachers or other relevant observers. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria are commonly used for diagnosis.

Long-Term Outlook: With appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and support, individuals with ADHD can lead fulfilling lives. Early intervention and ongoing management can significantly reduce the impact of symptoms and improve overall functioning.

Co-occurring Conditions: ADHD often coexists with other conditions such as learning disabilities, anxiety disorders, depression, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and conduct disorder (CD). These comorbidities can further complicate diagnosis and treatment.

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ADD vs ADHD Disorders Statistics

When the American Psychiatric Association released a revised edition in 1987, they combined these two subtypes into one condition, ADHD. Adults can have ADHD too. Nearly 2.6 percent of adults globally have persistent ADHD from childhood, while about 6.7 percent of adults have symptoms of adult ADHD.


1 in 5

In 2020, Nearly one in five U.S. adults lived with a mental illness. The most common mental disorders in the US are anxiety, major depression, and bipolar disorder. 

Source: NIMH

8.7 Million

In 2019, the number of visits to physician offices with attention deficit disorder as the primary diagnosis was 8.7 million.

Source: NIMH

9.5%

Approximately 9.5% of American adults, ages 18 and over, will suffer from a depressive illness (major depression, bipolar disorder, or dysthymia) each year.

Source: NIMH


What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?

ADD vs ADHD, What is the difference? When comparing ADD vs ADHD or ADHD vs ADD, it’s essential to understand the distinction between these two terms.

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is often used as a colloquial term for ADHD predominantly inattentive presentation. In formal diagnostic terms, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the preferred and more comprehensive term. However, understanding the specific differences in symptoms can provide clarity.

Diagnosing ADD or ADHD requires a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional, considering the presence and severity of symptoms in different settings. Treatment approaches, including medication, behavioral therapy, and support strategies, are tailored to address the specific needs of individuals based on their diagnosis.

ADHD has three subtypes:

  1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: Characterized by significant difficulties with attention and organization, similar to ADD.
  2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: Marked by prominent hyperactivity and impulsivity, with relatively fewer attention problems.
  3. Combined Presentation: Involves a combination of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms.

In summary, while ADD and ADHD may seem similar, the distinction lies in the terminology and the inclusion of hyperactivity and impulsivity as core features in ADHD. Understanding these differences is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate interventions.

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ADD vs ADHD Symptoms

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) share similarities in terms of attention-related difficulties, but they also have distinct symptom profiles. Let’s explore the symptoms associated with each condition:

ADD Symptoms:

  1. Inattention: Difficulty sustaining attention and staying focused on tasks.
  2. Distractibility: Easily getting distracted by external stimuli.
  3. Organization problems: Struggling with organizing tasks, materials, and thoughts.
  4. Forgetfulness: Frequently forgetting important details and being prone to losing things.
  5. Daydreaming: Frequently appearing lost in thought or being inattentive in situations.

ADHD Symptoms:

  1. Inattention: Similar to ADD, individuals with ADHD experience difficulty sustaining attention and being easily distracted.
  2. Hyperactivity: Excessive restlessness, being unable to stay still, and constant fidgeting.
  3. Impulsivity: Acting without thinking, interrupting others, and having difficulty waiting for their turn.
  4. Poor impulse control: Engaging in risky behaviors without considering the consequences.
  5. Excessive talking: Frequently talking excessively or blurting out answers before a question is completed.

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ADD vs ADHD Adults

Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may experience symptoms differently compared to children. While some symptoms may persist from childhood into adulthood, there are also unique challenges that adult ADD faces. Here are some key considerations:

  • Recognition and Diagnosis: ADHD symptoms in adults can be overlooked or misattributed to other causes. Inattentive, less disruptive, and more internal symptoms may go unrecognized, especially in girls and women. This can result in a delayed diagnosis or individuals seeking support only when encountering difficulties in various areas.
  • Improved Coping Skills: With age, individuals with ADHD may develop better-coping mechanisms and strategies to manage their symptoms. However, these skills may not be effectively utilized without proper diagnosis and treatment, leading to ongoing challenges.
  • Impact of Responsibilities: ADHD and ADD in adults often have increased responsibilities in various domains of life, such as work, relationships, and finances. This can amplify the impact of ADHD symptoms. Difficulties with organization, time management, and impulsivity can have more significant consequences, affecting job performance, financial stability, and interpersonal relationships.
  • Co-occurring Mental Health Conditions: Adults with ADHD may also experience co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. These conditions can interact with ADHD symptoms, exacerbating challenges and affecting overall well-being.
  • Environmental and Life Factors: Stressors and demands in adulthood, such as career pressures, financial obligations, and relationship dynamics, can contribute to changes in ADHD symptoms. Increased stress levels and demanding environments may make it more difficult to manage symptoms effectively.

ADHD vs ADD Infographic

While predominantly inattentive ADHD is a subtype of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the term attention deficit disorder (ADD), once used to describe it, is now regarded as archaic by medical professionals.

The above chart on “ADHD vs ADD” Shows the 3 subcategories of ADHD and its 5 signs in adults.
The above chart on “ADHD vs ADD” Shows the 3 subcategories of ADHD and its 5 signs in adults.

Embed the above “ADHD vs ADD” Infographic to your Website. This infographic is provided by the We Level Up addiction treatment center team. To use the above infographics, you agree to link back and attribute its source and owner at https://welevelupwa.com/mental-health/attention-deficit-disorder/

ADHD vs ADD image link: https://welevelupwa.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/ADD-vs-ADHD-1024×1024.jpg

The above chart on “Inattentive ADHD” Shows the 6 symptoms of Inattentive ADHD and its 3 medications.
The above chart on “Inattentive ADHD” Shows the 6 symptoms of Inattentive ADHD and its 3 medications.

Embed the above “Inattentive ADHD” Infographic to your Website. This infographic is provided by the We Level Up addiction treatment center team. To use the above infographics, you agree to link back and attribute its source and owner at https://welevelupwa.com/mental-health/attention-deficit-disorder/

Inattentive ADHD image link: https://welevelupwa.com/

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  1. What’s the difference between ADD and ADHD?

    The main difference between ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is that ADHD includes hyperactivity and impulsivity as core symptoms, whereas ADD primarily focuses on attention-related difficulties.

  2. Do I have ADD or ADHD?

    A healthcare professional can provide an accurate diagnosis of whether you have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) based on a comprehensive evaluation of your symptoms.

  3. Can you have ADD and ADHD?

    No, ADD and ADHD are terms used interchangeably to refer to the same condition.

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