Last updated:

February 13, 2023


 min read

ADD vs. ADHD: Is there a difference?

ADD refers to Attention Deficit Disorder and has now been replaced by ADHD which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Keep reading to know if there is a difference.

Reviewed by
Reyana D’Souza
Written by
Malvika Rathi

The simple answer is: no. 

There isn’t a difference between ADD and ADHD. However, they have a unique history of their own! ADHD is a mental health condition marked by the inability to pay attention and overactivity. 

It is unclear exactly what causes ADHD, but it might have some genetic components. There are theories under investigation, including probable causes including exposure to toxins during pregnancy or as a young kid, however, there is not sufficient data to label these as potential risk factors.

In this article, we will cover the history of ADD and ADHD, understand the subtypes and presentations, and explore treatment options for the disorder. 

The History of ADD and ADHD

To help standardize terminology and criteria used for diagnosis, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) specifies various mental health issues. When the classification system was revised in 1980, the hyperkinetic reaction of childhood was replaced by ADD, and in 1987, ADHD took its place. However, there was opposition to this change.

There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the words "ADD" and "ADHD" as a result of the debates and developments throughout the years. Although "ADD" is no longer a recognised term, many individuals continue to use it. Even today, the terms "ADD" and "ADHD" are used interchangeably. Others use the term "ADD" to denote a type of ADHD known as inattentive ADHD.  

Subtypes and Presentations 

The following are the various subtypes of ADHD which were officially introduced:

  • Inattentive and distractible ADHD (unofficially called ADD): It entails trouble in remaining quiet, patiently waiting, remaining still, struggling to follow instructions, and making careless mistakes.

  • Impulsive and hyperactive ADHD: This entails difficulty in listening, paying attention, squirming, getting up at inappropriate times, and constantly interrupting.

  • Combined ADHD: It is the most common type of ADHD and includes symptoms of both types listed above. 

The "subtypes" of ADHD were renamed to "presentations" in 2013. This showcases the way people experience ADHD rather than restrict them to a specific form of the disorder.

This switch was made because people can have various sets of symptoms as they progress, which fits better with a presentation than a subtype. For instance, a child may have signs of hyperactivity and difficulties focusing during their formative years before losing these traits as a teen or adult.

The APA categorizes and groups the signs and symptoms of ADHD according to how impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention are manifested. It is possible to have symptoms from several presentation types.

How is ADHD diagnosed? 

A diagnosis of ADHD involves more than just the primary symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.   

Children must not only have six symptoms or more for at least six months (adults must have five or more) but they must also: 

  • Experience some symptoms before the age of 12 
  • Exhibit symptoms in two or more contexts, such as at school, home, job, with friends, or while engaging in other activities 
  • Having symptoms that are severe enough to compromise one's quality of life and ability to perform at work, school, or in social situations.

Mental health professionals may take the following into account when diagnosing ADHD: 

  • An assessment 
  • Interaction with patients
  • Data from the parents (if the person being evaluated is a minor) 
  • Notes or evaluations from instructors or daycare centres, if applicable 
  • Information given by other medical staff members, such as a primary care physician
  • Medical evaluation to rule out other alternatives 

Treatment of ADHD 

There are several treatment choices for ADHD, and the most viable options are listed below. It is essential to keep in mind that different individuals will benefit from different methods, and in some cases, a combination of methods is the most effective choice.

  • Training in parenting techniques for parents of children diagnosed with ADHD   
  • Talk therapy 
  • School services and adaptations 
  • Medications for ADHD are typically classified into two major categories: stimulants and non-stimulants.


ADHD therapy treatment may include counselling for parents of children with ADHD, counselling for adults and children with ADHD, and school-based support. 

Talk therapy is a conversation-based treatment that can assist adults, kids, and parents understand the variables that affect the symptoms and consequences of ADHD, such as:

  • Difficulties with the environment, such as those in the family or at school that prevent the growth 
  • Not being able to convey one's feelings or thoughts 
  • Co-morbid mental health disorders such as depression, PTSD and anxiety 
  • Difficulty creating or maintaining relationships or friendships 
  • Additional requirements for health include getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising.

Finding a reliable therapist can be an overwhelming and cumbersome process. We’ve made it easier for you. Schedule a consultation with our warm, and welcoming therapists from the comfort of your home today. Our therapists are equipped to help you with all your mental health struggles. 

Final Word 

To sum it up, there is no difference between ADD and ADHD. ADHD is challenging not just for individuals with the condition but also for their primary social support system. The caretakers need to be taken care of as well, and dealing with the stigma around mental health might add to the stress already present. At Rocket Health, we want to CancelStigma one day at a time and foster a community which nurtures, and supports each other. To become a part of our movement, join our community using the link below.