What Is the Difference Between ADD and ADHD?

With the rise of online resources regarding mental health, many people are starting to understand the difference between ADD and ADHD. These two are some of the most common developmental disorders affecting children and adolescents.

ADD and ADHD are both behavior disorders that usually occur in children and teenagers. Although the origin of this disorder is not yet fully known, we are aware of the various symptoms it can produce. Both diseases are potentially genetic, with an estimated 75% to 80% of their severity linked to genetic factors.

Keep reading as we go through some of the finer details you may want to know about the differences between ADD and ADHD. We’ll also go through other topics such as corresponding symptoms and the potential treatments that follow diagnosis.

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What is the Difference Between ADD and ADHD?

One fact that’s important to know across all these talking points is that ADD and ADHD are currently used interchangeably from one another. ADD, or attention deficit disorder, was combined into the definition of ADHD with the 1987 revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s mental health reference manual.

A key difference between these 2 disorders is the way they manifest in children and adults. Depending on the type of ADHD, a child might seem distant and inattentive. They may also seem too energetic and anxious to act, especially during calm scenarios. Consult a mental health expert to ensure which kind of ADHD or ADD you’re experiencing.

However, there are also misconceptions regarding these 2 disorders and their severity. At the time of research, experts find that ADD and ADHD are not more or less severe compared to each other. Treatment goes a long way in dealing with ADHD, making early diagnosis and treatment essential for patients to stay focused and motivated.

The 3 Kinds of ADD and ADHD

The first type we’ll discuss is Inattentive Type ADHD, originally known as ADD. Usually, this refers to patients who have trouble keeping track of certain dates and responsibilities. They may also have difficulty avoiding mistakes and even completing tasks according to schedule. Patients may also show habits of procrastination and difficulty in paying attention, even in subjects that they’re interested in.

Next is Hyperactive Type ADHD, which is the type that’s commonly associated with this term. Patients experiencing this type of ADHD might find it difficult to remain seated in one place as they fidget and squirm in their seats excessively. They may also talk excessively and find quiet situations difficult to manage. Lastly, they may also feel an urge to switch tasks every now and again without completing any single one.

In some cases, a patient may experience symptoms from both types of ADHD. This brings us to the 3rd type which is called “Combined ADHD”. Whether this type of ADHD is the most common or not is debatable according to several studies. One found that 62% of participating adults had Combined Type ADHD. Another review done in 2020 found that only 2.44% of children and adolescents in Africa had the combined type of ADHD.

What’s The Medication for ADD and ADHD?

For ADD, or Inattentive Type ADHD, the symptoms could be interpreted as being “milder” than what we usually expect with cases of ADHD. It’s important to know, however, that these symptoms may be affecting a person as much as someone who is suffering from a different type of mental illness.

Some treatments that may be available for ADD and ADHD patients include specific medication and therapeutic methods. For the medicated approach, your psychiatrist may prescribe you certain medicines that help by stimulating regions of your brain. They may also be used to alleviate impulsive behaviors and give patients some normality within their lives. The two types of medication are Stimulants and Non-stimulants:

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Stimulants are the most common medications prescribed to patients diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. These can either be short-acting or long-acting, depending on the duration of the effects. Some examples of these include Methylphenidates and Lisdexamfetamine.

Given to children and teenagers of all ages, they allow them to more easily manage the symptoms of ADHD. Medication may also help them with their organizational skills, attention span, memory skills, and physical coordination. Most importantly, it helps them to curb any behavioral or social problems they may already be experiencing.

However, they may also come with various side effects that must be managed properly. They may experience a slump in their appetite which leads to weight loss, bouts of anxiety, agitation, and mood swings. Make sure to consult with your personal physician or with a pharmacist to inquire more about the side effects of your medication.


In contrast, Non-Stimulants are used for cases where regular stimulants do not seem to be effective. These are typically used by themselves or with the aid of other stimulants for both children and teenagers. Not only that, but they’re also used in cases where the patient is experiencing addictions or other mental disorders that may hamper treatment. Some examples include Clonidine and Atomoxetine.

These formulations help children by being able to reduce bouts of hyperactivity. They may even help with cases of insomnia and improves their attention span. Non-stimulants are also used in treating other mental illnesses such as Tourette Syndrome.

However, they may also cause side effects to the patients treated with it. Fatigue and Dizziness are one of the most common effects. Different cases may have patients experiencing differences in their blood pressure levels. Once again, consult with your prescribing physician about whether or not this medicinal treatment is for you.

Alternative Options

Currently, there is a lack of research when it comes to alternative medicinal options for patients with ADD or ADHD. However, the usage of supplements and dietary regimes could help them attain a healthy lifestyle. There are also other treatments such as Electroencephalographic biofeedback (EEG) that have yet to be fully integrated into standard treatment plans.

Before fully engaging with alternative medicine, consult your prescribing physician as these may harm your wellbeing.

Identifying Treatments for ADD and ADHD

Along with medication, an important aspect of treating ADD and ADHD is the effective use of behavioral therapy and counseling. Although curing ADHD is currently not possible, treating each symptom and working through them is. It takes the efforts of both the patient and the physicians to determine the right sort of treatment plan necessary.

Behavioral Therapy involves the training of necessary social skills, counseling meets, and the gradual changing of behavior. Should the patient be a child or an adolescent, the parents and other family members may be asked to undergo training as well. This is to ensure that they can understand and cope with the stresses and issues that arise when living with a family member with ADD or ADHD.

For treatment to have the highest amount of success, they must be able to attend treatment sessions and check-ups regularly. This may take months and even years depending on the severity of the symptoms. Approaching ADD/ADHD treatment as a family or with the support of close friends can help to hasten the process.

What’s important is that patients are given affirmations to improve their sense of self-worth and self-esteem. They must also be steered towards healthier lifestyle choices like regular exercise and meeting your dietary needs. Last, they must be given chances for genuine social interaction as this helps them cope with the many experiences they may go through.

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Final Thoughts

ADD and ADHD are complicated mental issues that require close attention and early diagnosis to cope with. Luckily, there are many resources available where people can learn more about the disorder and what can be done about it. There are even support groups that may be helpful should you want to know more about coping with ADD or ADHD.

As our understanding of these gets clearer and more refined, we found that ADD and ADHD could be described as one and the same. ADD, now known as Inattentive Type ADHD, is not worse or better than any form of ADHD. They both make it difficult for patients to focus on important tasks, something that may give them feelings of distress or depression as they try and manage their symptoms.

Now, we live in a time where medication and behavioral therapy treatments can help patients experiencing ADHD to live normal lives. The medicines involved do have their own set of side effects, but each one can be managed with the help of a pharmacist or the prescribing physician. If you’re taking behavioral therapy classes, having friends and family in close support can be a great boon to have.

Working with ADD and ADHD can be difficult, yet we now know that it’s more than possible. All those suffering from this mental disorder should seek help as soon as they can. Once you take that first step, you’ll find that each part of the journey to wellness will get easier. Here’s hoping for your steady recovery and good life ahead for all of us!

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Dave P
Dave P
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