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ADHD and ADD are NOT the same. Here’s why you need to know the difference

Published on:23 July 2021, 18:14pm IST
Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are different in their own ways but both conditions require medical assistance.
Grace Bains
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difference between ADHD and ADD
You must understand the difference between ADHD and ADD. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Ever wondered why you and/or your child gets easily distracted, and feel restless, especially when doing chores or work? Well, it could very well be a case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). 

These two terms are often used interchangeably, however, it is important to understand the difference between them. This will help in proper diagnosis, awareness, and treatment.

Here’s the difference between ADHD and ADD 

First and foremost, ADD is a type of ADHD, minus the recurring fidgeting. The difference, on the face of it, is vague, considering that at some point in the mid-’90s, the medical fraternity took a call to classify all types of attention deficit disorders as ‘attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder’.

The correct connotation now stands as ADHD –  inattentive type (in case of no hyperactivity), or ADHD – hyperactive/impulsive type, or ADHD – combined type.

It’s crucial to understand which term is applicable for you or your loved one, as all types have varied symptoms and diagnoses. 

The basic distinction between the two terms:

This is what you need to know about ADHD
  • ADHD, as a disorder, impacts everyday activities at home, school, or work. People with this ailment find it difficult to pay attention and control their behaviour. There is also some degree of hyperactivity associated with ADHD.
  • Signs to help you identify and seek medical help in case of ADHD, including inattention, disorganization, issues with completing a task, and daydreaming. 
  • Other symptoms include impulsive attitude, tendency to make on the spot decisions, and habit of interrupting loved ones when they are directly speaking to an ADHD patient. Hyperactivity is also a symptom and includes fidgeting, tapping of fingers and feet, and constant movement.

    difference between ADHD and ADD
    ADHD can lead to a plethora of other diseases. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
This is what you need to know about ADD
  • ADD, when it was still a relevant term, was used as a diagnosis of children under age 16, having  6 or more symptoms of inattention. These symptoms, however, do not include hyperactivity and impulsivity.
  • The symptoms for ADD include difficulty paying attention, lack of focus, displeasure at performing mentally heavy or engaging tasks (e.g. homework), and issues with completing tasks after starting them. 
  • Disorganization and being forgetful are also symptoms of ADD. Another sign is when a person loses interest in a conversation especially when directly being spoken to. 

Kids suffering from ADHD struggle with paying close attention to details. This ailment is manageable with the right care, and therapy. What is important is to understand the challenges faced by the ailing patients, even if they are just coming across as simply shy, careless or lost in their thoughts. 

Having issues with paying attention and focussing is a matter of serious concern and can have adverse consequences for the person battling with it. Be it work, education, or personal relationships, ADHD can impact all walks of life. 

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.