What’s the Difference Between ADHD and ADD?

Warning! Your ad blocker has been detected!

Healthaon.com is reader-supported. We're made available through displaying of online ads to improve user experience. Kindly consider disabling your ad blocker, thanks.

Types | Inattention | Hyperactivity and impulsivity |
Other symptoms | Adult ADHD | SeverityTakeaway |
Q&A | Approach | Overview


ADHD is not the same as ADD.


ADD, an obsolete medical term, has been phased out in the early days.


ADHD, recognized as the new medical term, has included several variations as well as more advanced definitions and treatment options.



Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the more commonly known childhood disorders. ADHD is a wide term, and the condition can vary between person to person. There are an estimated 6.5 million diagnosed children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [1].


The condition is sometimes called attention deficit disorder (ADD), but this is an obsolete term. This term was once used to refer to someone who had difficulties focusing but was not hyperactive. The American Psychiatric Association released the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) in May 2013. The DSM-5 questioned the criteria to diagnose someone with ADHD.

Continue reading to learn more about the types and symptoms of ADHD.


Types of ADHD

There are three types of ADHD:

  1. Inattentive

Inattentive ADHD is what’s usually meant when someone uses the term ADD. This means a person displays enough symptoms of inattention (or easy distractibility) but isn’t hyperactive or impulsive.

  1. Hyperactive/impulsive

This type occurs when a person has symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity but not inattention.

  1. Combined

Combined ADHD is when a person has symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity.



Inattention, or difficulties focusing, is one symptom of ADHD. A doctor may diagnose a child as inattentive if the child:

  • is distracted easily
  • is forgetful, even in day-to-day activities
  • is unable to give close attention to details in homework or other activities and makes clumsy mistakes
  • has trouble paying attention on tasks or activities
  • ignores a speaker, even upon speaking to directly
  • doesn’t observe instructions
  • fails to complete schoolwork or chores
  • loses focus or is easily side-tracked
  • has issue with organization
  • dislikes and avoids tasks that require long periods of mental effort, such as homework
  • loses essential items needed for tasks and activities


Hyperactivity and impulsivity

A doctor may diagnose a child as hyperactive or impulsive if the child:

  • appears to be always “on the go”
  • talks excessively or unnecessarily
  • has severe difficulty waiting for their turn
  • fidgets in their seat, taps their hands or feet, or squirms
  • gets up from a seat when expected to remain seated
  • runs around or climbs in inappropriate situations
  • is unable to quietly play or take part in tranquil activities
  • blurts out an answer before someone completes asking a question
  • intrudes on and interrupts others consistently

Learn more: 7 Signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) »


Other symptoms

Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are important symptoms for an ADHD diagnosis. In addition, a child or adult must meet the following criteria to be diagnosed with ADHD:

  • shows several symptoms before the age of 12
  • has symptoms in more than one setting, such as home, at school, with friends, or during other activities
  • displays clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with their functioning at school, work, or in social situations
  • has symptoms that are not explained by another condition, such as anxiety disorders or mood


Adult ADHD

Adults with ADHD have typically had the disorder since childhood, but it may not be diagnosed until later stages in life. An evaluation usually occurs at the prompting of a family member, a peer, or co-worker who observes problems at work or in relationships.


Adults can have any of the three subtypes of ADHD. Adult ADHD symptoms can differ from those of children because of the relative maturity of adults, as well as physical differences between adults and children.

Learn more: 12 Signs of adult ADHD »



The symptoms of ADHD can range from mild to severe, depending on a person’s unique physiology and environment. Some people are mildly hyperactive or inattentive when they conduct a task they don’t enjoy, but they have the ability to focus on tasks they like. Others may encounter more severe symptoms. These can affect work, school, and social situations.


Symptoms are often more severe in unstructured group situations than in structured situations with incentives. For example, a playground is a more unstructured group situation. A classroom may represent a structured and incentive-based environment.


Other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or a learning disability may worsen symptoms.


Often people report that symptoms go away with age. An adult with ADHD who was hyperactive as a child may find that they’re now able to remain rooted or curb some impulsivity.



Determining your type of ADHD puts you a step closer to identifying the plausible treatment. Be sure to discuss most your symptoms with your doctor so you get an accurate diagnosis.




Can a child “overcome” ADHD or will it continue into adulthood if left untreated?


Current thinking suggests that as the child matures, the prefrontal cortex grows and develops as well. This decreases symptoms. It’s been suggested that roughly one-third of people no longer have symptoms of ADHD during adulthood. Others may continue to have symptoms, but these may be way milder than those noted during childhood and adolescence.

Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.


Healthily written, prettily disseminated …

Inattentive type of ADHD doesn’t mean high mobility frequency. The individual may not heed to the person talking, daydreaming frequently, or being distracted. Low attention span is one of the main causes of Type 1 ADHD and a concern for personal development. See the doctor.


Symptoms of ADHD tend to drop as the child matures to adulthood. At a young age, misdiagnosis is not an uncommon problem. See your doctor if you think the otherwise. Review which natural remedies can alleviate your concerns regarding the disorder.


There are 14 signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) make you better understand, find out the relevant topics to progress in development, and structure a plan with your doctor to nurture your child.


Factual reviews on ADHD is only based on diagnosis. Not assumption should be the outcome of any test result. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to manage ADHD or ADD. Topics on ADHD is recommended to be available during early parenting education.


Every individual encounters ADHD differently. Not two patients will feel, think, or react in the same manner even under the same evaluation of behaviors. The doctor, together with a panel of specialists, will assess the current condition and make adjustments to the patient’s outlook.


ADHD or ADD must not impact you or your child’s personal development. People with ADHD are not discouraged over natural means, and your life is determined by your choice. Diagnosis, observations, or reporting can only do so much. The rest of them is up to you or your child’s decision.


No matter what, diagnoses of ADHD don’t mean the end of the world. There’re success stories of physical disabilities, personal and family problems, and even people with ADHD. Your life, your story – Healthaon, 2020.


Reference List:

[1] Trusted Source, “A common genetic factor explains the covariation among ADHD ODD and CD symptoms in 9–10 year old boys and girls”, Journal List – HHS Author manuscripts: PMC2634815, 02 February 2009.

[2] Trusted Source, “Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Trends in the Parent-Report of Health Care Provider-Diagnosis and Medication Treatment for ADHD: United States”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC), 2003–2011.

[3] Trusted Source, “Maternal alcohol use during pregnancy and offspring attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a prospective sibling control study.”, US National Library of Medicine – National Institute of Health, 01 October 2017.

[4] Trusted Source, “My Child Has Been Diagnosed with ADHD – Now What?”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 08 October 2019.

[5] Trusted Source, “Psychometric Properties of ADHD Symptoms in Toddlers.”, US National Library of Medicine – National Institute of Health, July 2020.

[6] Trusted Source, “Everything You Need to Know About ADHD”, ADHD Health Topics, 13 June 2019.

Leave a Reply