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ADD v ADHD: What’s the Difference?

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At Montare Behavioral Health, we treat both ADD and ADHD. A common question we receive is what’s the difference between ADD v ADHD.

Two of the most common mental disorders are attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADD is technically a type of  ADHD. As a result, some of the character traits that are associated with ADD are also associated with ADHD. 

As a result, many people use the terms ADD and ADHD interchangeably. While this may be socially acceptable, it’s still important to remember the differences between ADD v ADHD and how they are treated. 

What is ADD?

As mentioned earlier, ADD stands for attention deficit disorder. Technically, ADD is the predominantly inattentive subset of ADHD. Thus, individuals that suffer from ADD struggle to remember things and pay attention without getting distracted. As a result, many people that suffer from ADD also struggle to be productive at school or work unless they are treated for their conditions. 

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Thus, people that suffer from ADHD tend to be hyperactive and impulsive, sometimes while also struggling to focus and pay attention. 

What Are the Different Types of ADHD?

There are three types of ADHD. These types of ADHD are described below.

Predominantly Inattentive Type of ADHD (ADD)

One of the three types of ADHD is ADD, otherwise known as the predominantly inattentive type of ADHD. Although a type of ADHD, because people that suffer from ADD do not struggle with hyperactivity like the H in ADHD stands for, it is viewed differently from the other types of ADHD. Thus, for societal purposes, it’s important to know the difference between ADD and the other two types of ADHD. 

Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Type of ADHD

The other two types of ADHD are what society views as the true types of ADHD. One of these two types of ADHD is predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD. People that suffer from predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD have trouble staying still, controlling their energy, waiting their turn in social situations, and not being too talkative. In other words, people that suffer from this type of ADHD struggle to be hyperactive and impulsive. 

Combined Type ADHD

People that suffer from combined type ADHD also have trouble being hyperactive and impulsive on top of having trouble paying attention, hence the name combined type ADHD. 

Symptoms of ADD v ADHD

Now that you have a general understanding of the difference between ADD v ADHD, it’s time to deeply analyze the differences between the symptoms of ADD and the other types of ADHD. 

Symptoms of ADD

People that suffer from predominantly inattentive type ADHD, otherwise known as ADD, primarily struggle with forgetfulness and poor focus, organization, and listening skills. 

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) though, to officially be diagnosed with ADD, one must exhibit at least six of the following symptoms:

  • Often makes careless mistakes and/or fails to pay close attention to details
  • Has difficulty paying attention 
  • Does not listen when spoken to 
  • Does not follow through with instructions and does not complete his or her work
  • Struggles to be organized
  • Dislikes and avoids any tasks that require much mental effort
  • Frequently loses things that he or she needs
  • Gets distracted easily
  • Regularly forgetful

Symptoms of Hyperactivity/Impulsive ADHD

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), to diagnose a person with hyperactivity/impulsive ADHD, that person must exhibit at least six of the following symptoms:

  • Continuously squirms and fidgets hands and feet 
  • Feels the need to leave a seat at random times 
  • Climbs things and runs or moves around at inappropriate times as children or is frequently restless as teens or adults
  • Struggles to quietly take part in leisurely activities
  • Is always on the go and full of energy
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts things out
  • Has difficulty waiting for his or her turn
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others

Symptoms of Combined Type ADHD

People that suffer from combined type ADHD must exhibit at least six or more symptoms of ADD and Hyperactivity/Impulsive ADHD. 

ADD and ADHD in Children v Adults

Anyone of any age can suffer from ADD or ADHD. Children often exhibit the symptoms of ADD and ADHD differently than teens and adults do though. For example, a child that suffers from ADHD may be extremely rambunctious to the point of climbing things and running around incessantly.

Teens and adults with ADHD may exhibit their hyperactivity and impulsivity more by always being restless, fidgety, and talkative. Adults with both ADD and ADHD may also exhibit their mental disorders more by being forgetful and always losing their keys, wallets, phones, etc. 

Ultimately, because teens and adults are naturally more mature than children, the symptoms of ADHD often appear to improve with age. Adults that have always suffered from ADHD usually do continue to suffer from the mental disorder in some capacity throughout the rest of their lives though. 

ADHD is often harder to diagnose in children than teens and adults because children naturally exhibit more hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. ADD on the other hand is often harder to diagnose in all people. This is because ADD symptoms aren’t disruptive and can thus, often be chalked up to people just being daydreamers. This is especially the case for women that suffer from ADD.

Similarities Between ADD and ADHD

There are similarities between ADD and more typical forms of ADHD. This is particularly true when it comes to comparing ADD and combined type ADHD, as people that suffer from combined type ADHD must exhibit numerous ADD symptoms. 

Even between ADD and hyperactivity/impulsive ADHD, there are similarities though. For example, people that suffer from ADD and ADHD both struggle to listen and pay attention in some way. 

Difference Between ADD and ADHD

Although there are similarities between ADD and ADHD, there are also many distinct differences. For example, people that suffer from ADD struggle more with paying attention and focusing, while people that suffer from ADHD struggle more with staying still and not being disruptive or impulsive. People that suffer from combined type ADHD struggle to both pay attention and focus and not be disruptive or impulsive. 

Medications Used to Treat ADD and ADHD

One thing that ADD and ADHD do have in common is the fact that both disorders use similar medications in their treatments. These medications that people that suffer from ADD and ADHD use in treatment are either psychostimulants, non-stimulants, or antidepressants. 

Stimulants, such as Adderall, Ritalin, or Concerta are often effective in treating ADD and ADHD because they help increase people’s sense of alertness. This, in turn, helps people focus more. 

Non-stimulant drugs often help people focus and regulate their emotions as well. Because mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety often co-occur with ADD and ADHD, antidepressants can also help in the treatment of ADD and ADHD. 

Therapies Used to Treat ADD v ADHD

ADD and ADHD treatment uses several behavioral therapies to help people alter their negative behaviors, such as interrupting others, constantly talking, etc. Examples of the behavioral therapies that are used to treat ADD and ADHD include cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, etc.

To treat ADD and ADHD, individuals will also need to take part in individual, group, and family forms of therapy. That way, people with ADD and ADHD can learn from, not only themselves and their therapists, but also their loved ones and one another. 

Some therapists will even use behavioral peer interventions to lead a group of one’s peers to interact with a patient so that he or she can learn how to cope with life and interact with others while paying attention and not being hyperactive/impulsive.

Children that need extra assistance learning how to cope with their ADD and ADHD may even be able to receive extra time on tests, additional break time, and changes to their environments and assignments while in school under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

Parents of children with ADD and ADHD can even receive special training to learn how to help their children manage their behaviors. Whatever form of behavioral therapy or assistance that one may need to treat ADD and ADHD within themselves and/or the people that they love.

Receive Treatment for ADD and ADHD at Montare Behavioral Health

Since both ADD and ADHD are mental disorders, they both can be treated here at Montare Behavioral Health. Montare Behavioral Health is a mental health treatment center that has locations throughout Southern California. 

Here at Montare Behavioral Health, we take a fresh, innovative approach to mental health treatment and recovery that utilizes evidence-based practices but also incorporates cutting-edge therapies and holistic philosophy. Here at Montare Behavioral Health, we aim to treat our patients’ mental health issues so that they can go on and live full, happy lives. 

To learn more about Montare Behavioral Health and the treatments and therapies that we use to treat ADD and ADHD or any mental disorder for that matter, contact us today. Our staff is more than willing to answer any questions that you may have.