ADD vs ADHD: What’s the difference in symptoms?

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The truth about ADD vs. ADHD: Attention deficit disorder involves three distinct subtypes – inattentive (traditionally ADD), hyperactive-impulse (traditionally ADHD), and combined. Symptoms vary significantly for each type – from the energy of the bouncing walls to the serene calm and intense chaos.

ADD vs. ADHD: What’s the Difference in Symptoms?

ADD vs ADHD: What’s the difference in symptoms?
Traditionally uncomfortable symptoms of attention deficit such as hearing disturbances or time management were diagnosed as “ADD”. Overactive and impulsive symptoms were associated with the term “ADHD”.

Today, there is no ADD versus ADHD; According to DSM-5, ADD and ADHD are considered to be the same condition and a subtype of the same diagnosis. Similarly, the conservative caricature of a person with ADHD – a boisterous, vocal risk taker – is outdated. Many people with attention deficit disorder – especially girls and women – live with a calm, clear-cut form of the condition that is often misunderstood and undiagnosed. Here, we explain the differences between the 3 sub-types of ADHD.

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the preferred medical term for a biologically based neurological condition that was once ADD. These symptoms come with one of three quantitative subtypes: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, or joint. They vary in severity from person to person, making diagnosis challenging. The group of behaviors that make up ADHD has been recognized since 1902, although the name has changed over time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11% of children and adolescents in the United States are diagnosed with ADHD.

What is the meaning of ADD vs ADHD?

ADHD is the official, medical term for the condition – regardless of whether a patient exhibits symptoms of hyperactivity. ADD is now an older term commonly used to describe heedless-type ADHD, with symptoms including disorder, lack of focus, and amnesia. Inattentive people with ADHD are not hyper or impulsive.

What Is Inattentive ADHD?

Inattentive ADHD is often written as spacey, egocentric behavior in children or mood disorders / anxiety in adults. People with this form of ADHD often lose focus, are forgetful, and have hearing difficulties. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM-V), six of the following symptoms must be present and can cause serious effects at school or work to qualify a diagnosis.

  • Often fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Often have difficulty maintaining attention
  • Often don’t listen when spoken
  • Often does not follow instructions and fails to complete projects
  • Often have difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Is often avoided, disliked, or unwilling to engage in tasks that require constant mental effort
  • Often loses things needed for tasks or activities
  • Often easily distracted by external stimuli
  • Often forgetful in daily activities

Recognizing incompatible ADHD is important to prevent a lifetime of low self-esteem and shame.

What Is Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD?

The Hyperactive-Impulsive Type is the stereotype most people imagine of ADHD: a young boy, bouncing off walls, and the teacher interrupting the middle sentence. Nevertheless, this description fits only a small portion of the people with the condition. For this type to occur, a person must have 6 or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fidgets With hands or feet or squirrels on the seat.
  • Seats are left in the classroom or in other positions in which the remainder is expected to be seated.
  • Moves or climbs more about situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, which may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness).
  • There is difficulty in playing or engaging in silent activities.
  • Appears “on the go” or “driven by motor”
  • Talks excessively.
  • Blur the answer before the questions are completed.
  • It is difficult to wait for the turn.
  • Interfering or intruding on others (eg, butts in conversation or play).


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