ADD vs ADHD vs hyperactive vs…. All these labels and diagnoses can be confusing to differentiate and find answers and treatments.
According to the CDC, there were more than six million children diagnosed with ADHD as of 2016.
Statistics show a slight drop in diagnoses between 2011 and 2016, with the majority of diagnoses for children between the ages of 12 and 17.
Many adults who were never diagnosed in childhood are now discovering the condition and learning to manage the symptoms just like younger ADHD sufferers.
Whether you or someone you love is dealing with childhood or adult ADHD, you may wonder whether your condition is better suited to ADD than ADHD.
ADD is often thought of as ADHD without the hyperactivity, but it’s an outdated term that isn’t actively used in the medical community.
It’s still important to understand the difference between the terms.
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Children are often suspected to have this condition if they can’t stop fidgeting and struggle to focus on one task for an extended period of time.
Take a look at a more complete list of possible symptoms, though some sufferers have more signs of struggle than others:
ADHD can also impact a sufferer’s moods and temperament. They may seem on edge or prone to frequent and sudden mood swings.
Some ADHD sufferers don’t deal well with intense or constant stress while others have a low tolerance for frustrating or intense situations.
You don’t have to have all of these symptoms to qualify for an ADHD diagnosis. The combination of symptoms experienced by any person can vary.
The best way to determine if you have ADHD is to speak with a medical professional who knows your medical history.
They can help you determine whether you have the condition, what form of the condition you suffer from, and what symptoms you can control through behavior modification, medication or natural treatments.
ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder. It was once considered a form of ADHD that was limited to cognitive symptoms.
Sufferers struggled to focus on one task and follow-through with long-term plans and projects but didn’t experience hyperactivity.
Most professionals now consider ADD an outdated term because it’s no longer included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, otherwise known as the DSM.
It’s used to determine the accurate diagnosis of mental disorders, and ADD is no longer used as a diagnosis as of the fifth edition (DSM-5).
That doesn’t mean that ADD isn’t a legitimate diagnosis, especially if you received the diagnosis prior to May of 2013.
Understanding the new guidelines for diagnosing ADHD will help you understand where your condition fits into the ADHD spectrum.
The DSM now includes three categories for ADHD diagnoses.
The following list will introduce you to all three options, including a list of symptoms that may help you tell the difference between them.
ADHD Predominantly Inattentive
The predominantly inattentive subtype of ADHD is the equivalent to ADD. Some of the most common symptoms of this disorder include:
Hyperactivity and impulsivity are also associated with ADHD, but those symptoms aren’t present in many people diagnosed with the predominantly inattentive subtype.
When those symptoms are present, they’re minor compared to the forgetfulness and lack of focus.
This subtype is largely cognitive, but it can still have a significant impact on the sufferer’s quality of life.
The inability to focus on a task for a reasonable period of time and the lack of organization can make it difficult to maintain steady employment.
Sufferers may also struggle in relationships due to their inability to follow through with plans and focus on conversations.
ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive
This subtype of ADHD focuses on the physical symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity while the cognitive symptoms are less severe or nonexistent.
For instance, someone with this diagnoses may have trouble sitting still and may often act impulsively, but they may otherwise have no problems focusing on tasks for long periods of time.
Some of the most common symptoms experienced by people with this condition include:
Someone with this condition may interrupt others because they don’t have the patience to wait their turn in a conversation.
They may get out of their seat at inappropriate moments or fidget to the point that it disturbs other people nearby.
They may seem to have a lot of nervous energy that is off-putting, but it’s simply a nonstop burst of energy that compels the person to move, talk or otherwise take action.
This is where both of the previous subtypes come together. A person who was diagnosed with ADHD rather than ADD prior to the DSM-5 will likely now fall under the Combined subtype.
That simply means that they display many if not all of the symptoms listed for both of the “predominant” subtypes.
If you’re diagnosed with this form of ADHD, you struggle with the cognitive and physical symptoms of the condition.
It can have a serious impact on all areas of your life, including your ability to maintain gainful employment, sustain long-term relationships and complete personal development projects.
Doctors typically use prescription medication and behavior modification therapy to treat ADHD.
All forms of the condition can respond well to therapy, especially when sessions are targeted to problematic behaviors specific to the patient.
For instance, one person may focus on learning to listen carefully when other people speak without interrupting.
Another person may focus more on strategies to remain in a seated position for longer periods of time or to focus on a book or computer screen long enough to accomplish work tasks.
Therapy should address issues that prevent the patient from experiencing a rewarding quality of life rather than discussing ADHD in general.
When children are diagnosed with ADHD, the parents or caregivers may receive therapy for two reasons:
Spouses, significant others and other loved ones may also seek therapy to help them deal with an adult who has ADHD.
The best results come when all parties stay involved in therapy, so the treatment addresses the needs of each individual as well as the group.
The individual with ADHD works to manage and overcome their symptoms while loved ones learn to control their response to the condition.
Everyone involved should learn advanced communication skills and coping mechanisms.
A deeper understanding of ADHD and how it presents in the individual is also covered by most therapy programs.
Once an ADHD diagnosis is delivered, most doctors will recommend prescription ADHD medication.
Even if you opt to go through behavior modification or therapy programs, your doctor is likely to discuss medication options as if it’s an essential element of treatment.
While behavior therapy is effective, it takes some time before you will see the impact of that work.
Medication can take effect right away, delivering fast relief from many of the most troubling ADHD symptoms.
There are a variety of medications prescribed to treat ADHD, and many patients try multiple options before finding one that works well without uncomfortable side effects.
Unfortunately, many patients do experience negative side effects when taking these medications, including:
Some medications may cause side effects that mirror symptoms of ADHD, including mood swings and irritability.
Sufferers may experience more disturbance to their daily lives while experiencing side effects, which leads to trying new medications which may also come with unwanted side effects.
Many people are now choosing to treat their ADHD with therapy and behavior modification alone due to the side effects that come with medication.
Others are looking for new natural treatments that can ease symptoms and teach new behaviors without side effects.
Not all alternative treatments for ADHD are backed by scientific research, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that some of the options may work for some people.
The following list will introduce you to some of the most promising options.
Other natural ADHD treatments include neurofeedback and brain-training programs that you can access online or through apps.
There are also specialized treatment programs that combine a variety of natural ADHD treatments tailored to individual sufferers.
Talking to your doctor about natural treatment options may help you find such programs in your local area.