Is There a Difference Between ADD and ADHD?

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ADD and ADHD are often misunderstood conditions. ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, is a condition characterized by various symptoms that usually lead to difficulty with concentration. ADD, or attention deficit disorder, is technically an outdated term referring to a sub-type of ADHD called inattentive ADHD. Early diagnosis of ADD and ADHD helps to keep children focused in school. ADHD is a common childhood disorder that is sometimes carried into adulthood.

Types of ADHD

There are three recognized types of ADHD. The types are characterized by different symptoms, although some may overlap. Some of the symptoms are very noticeable, while others are more discreet and may surprise you.


Hyperactive ADHD is the most well-known type. One of the main symptoms of Hyperactive ADHD is overactivity or restlessness. To be diagnosed with hyperactive ADHD, you must have at least six of the common symptoms which include:

  • Inability to take part in quiet activities
  • Excessive talking
  • Active play at inappropriate times
  • Difficulty taking turns
  • Frequent tendency to interrupt others
  • Fidgeting when forced to be still
  • Inability to stay seated
  • Constant activity


Inattentive ADHD is usually the type identified with the term ADD. Inattentive ADHD may be harder to diagnose because the symptoms are not as noticeable. Inattentive ADHD sufferers are often known for shyness. Symptoms include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty with organization
  • Tendency to be easily distracted
  • Losing things often
  • Unfinished school work or chores
  • Tendency to ignore people even when directly spoken to

Combined ADHD

Combined ADHD occurs when a person has both hyperactive and inattentive symptoms. To be diagnosed with combined ADHD, a person must have 6 or more symptoms of each type of ADHD. Hyperactive symptoms are usually seen more in males, and inattentive symptoms are seen more often in females. Other factors are necessary for a complete diagnosis.

  • Symptoms must occur in more than one setting
  • Several symptoms must be experienced before age 12
  • Symptoms interfere with daily functions
  • Symptoms cannot be explained by another diagnosis

ADHD in Adults

An adult diagnosed with ADHD has usually had undiagnosed symptoms since childhood. Symptoms in adults may be different than children because of maturity and learned techniques. Sometimes adults recognize their own symptoms only after their children are diagnosed. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD are often considered lazy, forgetful, and selfish.


Early diagnosis of ADHD is necessary to help symptom management. There are several types of treatment for ADHD. Your child’s doctor might prescribe a combination of treatments to manage the symptoms.

  • Medication – Stimulants are the most common type of medicine prescribed for ADHD. They increase chemicals in the brain which improve concentration and focus. If stimulants are ineffective or cause side-effects, non-stimulants may be prescribed. Non-stimulant medicines for ADHD may help improve attention and memory.
  • Therapy – ADHD therapy may include psychotherapy, behavior therapy, and social skills training. Psychotherapy helps children to explore feelings about the difficulties of ADHD and the resulting problems occurring in relationships with adults. Behavior therapy can help you and your child determine better strategies to respond to certain situations. Social skills may be advised if your child has trouble in social situations. This will help your child learn to better associate with his peers
  • Parental skills training – This training is to help you understand your child’s behavior and create a system to help her cope with symptoms. Parents learn techniques to streamline everyday tasks, keep behavior under control, and reward success.

ADHD has many symptoms that interrupt focus and concentration. Management of symptoms can help make difficult situations easier. Recognizing your child’s symptoms is the first step toward helping them cope.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse and recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.

Reach out to us today at 888-743-0490 to speak confidentially with an addiction counselor, or contact us online.