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Is ADD The Same As ADHD? 08 June, 2021   

Have you ever heard of the terms ADD and ADHD and wondered what they are, and if they’re the same condition? 

With widespread resources on the disorder, both ADD and ADHD frequently appear in articles, research reports, and online blogs. This can cause confusion, especially for those researching for personal purposes, because the terms are often used interchangeably.

What is ADHD? 

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is a common neurodevelopmental disorder. People experiencing ADHD have differences in their brain development and brain activity that impact their ability to regulate attention, sit still, and have self control. 

Signs of ADHD include inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Some people might experience one of these, whereas others may experience all. 

ADHD is most commonly diagnosed in male children, as they display the stereotypical classic tendencies of ADHD. While attitudes have shifted and more information is accessible, ADHD remains underdiagnosed in females and commonly misdiagnosed as anxiety or depression. 

Is there a difference? 

The long and short of it is no, there is not a difference, ADD and ADHD are the same. 

ADHD is the updated official term for the disorder. 

Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) was the official name of the disorder from 1980 to 1987. The official name was then modified to be Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) after new studies and information became available. 

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

The first DSM was issued in 1952 and did not include ADD. 

The second DSM, published in 1968, did however include hyperkinetic impulse disorder. This was ADD’s original name, first formally recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). 

It has since been revised and at the time of writing, there is currently a fifth DSM which now includes ADHD. 

The previous name, ADD, did not include hyperactivity, which has become a main component of the disorder. 

ADD was used for the inattentive presentations of the disorder before scientists discovered the other side of the spectrum, hyperactivity, was also a feature of the disorder. 

Before, many people were going undiagnosed because they did not display symptoms of the attention-deficit subset presentation. 

Although it is an outdated term, it is still used sometimes when referring to subset symptoms for those who have an inattentive presentation. 

Presentations of ADHD 

There are three presentations for ADHD in the current DSM-5 model: 

  1. Predominantly inattentive presentation 

  2. Predominantly hyper-impulsive presentation 

  3. Combined presentation 

ADHD manifests differently between children and adults, and males and females. Often, females are undiagnosed because they do not present the same tendencies as their male counterparts. Further research and studies have identified common patterns of behavior of both females and males with ADHD, making it easier to recognize and diagnose. 


ADHD is evident for a continuum of behaviors that impact the daily functioning of individuals for indefinite periods of time. Some symptoms of ADHD can mirror that of other conditions, such as anxiety and depression, therefore it is best to seek medical advice for an accurate diagnosis if you suspect yourself or a family member has the condition. 

A common misconception is that people with ADHD cannot focus at all due to their inattentive nature or hyperactivity. This is not the case. People with ADHD struggle with regulating their attention. While mundane activities may be a challenge, they may be capable of focusing well on activities of interest. 

For more information, check out this guide written for parents and caregivers by New Vision Psychology. 


ADHD can be treated in a number of ways:

Behavior therapy 

Psychologists can assist in helping those with ADHD develop the various skills they might be lacking in, such as social skills, planning skills, and emotional regulation. 


Some individuals with ADHD require medication to assist them in concentrating, slowing down, or having greater control of self. 

Educational support 

Schools should offer extra support for students with ADHD to facilitate a learning environment in which students can achieve their educational objectives. 

Universities should also implement support for adults experiencing ADHD. 

Creating a supportive environment for study can make a world of difference for students with ADHD, including limiting distractions for those who are hyperactive, or implementing rewards-based activities for those inattentive students struggling with motivation, for example. 

adhd add

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