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Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

What is the Difference between ADD and ADHD?

This page abstract: ADHD is the term used in the current DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria. ADD with or without hyperactivity is the older term from the DSM-IIIR.

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What is the Difference between ADD and ADHD?

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Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 22 Jul 2008.

What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?

Answer:

During the last few years many different terms for children, adolescents and adults with ADHD have been introduced. They were mainly influenced by American descriptions of the classification system DSM-IV:
  • ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
    is the term used in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) diagnostic criteria.
  • ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) with or without hyperactivity
    is the older term from the DSM-IIIR. Thus in some older literature you will find this term as a synonym for ADHD.
Thomas Brown describes common symptoms of ADD (inattentive type):
  • Often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • Often difficulty following through on instructions from others
  • Difficulty sustaining attention
  • Often does not seem to listen to what is being said
  • Tendency to lose things necessary for tasks or activities
  • Difficulty organizing goal-directed activities
  • Often shifts from one uncompleted activity to another

Some research shows that children with hyperactive-impulsive symptoms tend to have more behavioural problems and conduct disorder, while children with the inattentive type (ADD) have a higher risk of comorbid depression or anxiety disorders.

Children with several symptoms of both the inattentive and the hyperactive type are diagnosed as "combined type" ADHD.

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