Add vs ADHD: What’s the Difference?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are two commonly misunderstood neurological disorders that affect millions of people worldwide. These disorders can interfere with a person’s ability to concentrate, remain organized and manage daily tasks.

What is ADD?

ADD is a type of ADHD that doesn’t involve hyperactivity. People with ADD usually have difficulty focusing, staying organized, remembering details, and managing their time. Unlike ADHD, they are not typically disruptive, impulsive, or hyperactive.

People with ADD are often seen as forgetful, distractible, or disorganized. They may have trouble following instructions, completing tasks, or maintaining attention on a specific topic for an extended period. They may have difficulty staying on task and quickly lose interest in what they are doing. They may also struggle with procrastination and time management problems.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurological disorder that affects both children and adults. This condition is characterized by problems with attention, impulse control, and hyperactivity. People with ADHD are often easily distracted, impulsive, and have trouble completing tasks.

ADHD is typically diagnosed in children, and symptoms can persist into adulthood. The hyperactivity or restlessness associated with ADHD may ease over time, but other symptoms such as impulsiveness, forgetfulness, and difficulty paying attention may continue.

What are the Symptoms of ADHD?

There are three subtypes of ADHD that depend on the individual’s predominant symptoms:

1. Inattentive Type

This type of ADHD is often referred to as ADD. Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty paying attention to details and making careless mistakes
  • Difficulty staying focused and following through with instructions
  • Struggles with organization and planning
  • Easily distracted or loses things frequently

2. Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

This type of ADHD is often identified in younger children. Symptoms may include:

  • Fidgeting or squirming excessively
  • Difficulty sitting still or remaining seated
  • Talking excessively or interrupting others
  • Difficulty waiting their turn
  • Impulsiveness and poor decision-making

3. Combined Type

This type of ADHD includes both inattentiveness and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty focusing and following through with tasks
  • Fidgeting or squirming in their seats
  • Talking excessively and interrupting others
  • Impulsiveness and poor decision-making

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

Diagnosing ADHD requires a thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional who specializes in treating this disorder. This may include a physical examination, interviews with parents, teachers, or caregivers, and a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s symptoms and behavior.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the standard diagnostic tool for diagnosing ADHD. The DSM-5 outlines the criteria for diagnosing ADHD and provides clear guidelines for healthcare professionals to follow.

Treatment Options for ADD and ADHD

There is no cure for ADHD or ADD, but there are effective treatment options that can help individuals manage their symptoms, including:

1. Medication

Stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall are commonly prescribed to treat ADHD symptoms. These medications work by increasing the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which helps individuals stay focused and attentive.

Non-stimulant medications such as Strattera may also be prescribed to treat ADHD symptoms. These medications work by increasing the amount of norepinephrine in the brain to help improve attention and impulse control.

2. Counseling and Therapy

Counseling and therapy can help individuals with ADHD or ADD understand their condition better and develop strategies to manage their symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, for instance, can help individuals develop organization and time-management skills, as well as coping mechanisms for stress and emotional regulation.

3. Lifestyle Changes

Sleep, diet and exercise can also be instrumental in managing the symptoms of ADHD and ADD. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule and eating a balanced diet can improve focus and reduce impulsiveness. Similarly, regular exercise can increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, which can help manage ADHD symptoms.

Final Thoughts

ADHD and ADD can make it challenging for individuals to function at their fullest potential. However, with proper diagnosis, treatment and support, individuals with ADHD or ADD can lead productive and successful lives. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of ADHD or ADD, it’s essential to speak with a healthcare professional and explore available treatment options.


FAQs About “ADD Vs ADHD: What’s the Difference?”

1. What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?

ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder, whereas ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The main difference between the two is that ADHD involves hyperactivity, whereas ADD does not. People with ADHD tend to be more impulsive, fidgety, and have trouble sitting still, while those with ADD tend to have difficulty focusing, staying organized, and completing tasks.

2. How is ADD/ADHD diagnosed?

Symptoms of ADD/ADHD can be diagnosed by a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or psychologist. A diagnosis typically involves a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s symptoms, medical history, and may include psychological testing. It’s important to note that not everyone who displays symptoms of ADD/ADHD has the disorder and only a professional can provide an accurate diagnosis.

3. Can medication help with ADD/ADHD?

Yes, in some cases medications such as stimulants can be prescribed to help manage symptoms of ADD/ADHD. However, medication is not a cure and should be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, such as therapy or behavior management strategies. It’s important to work with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for an individual’s specific needs.


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3. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Retrieved from