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What is the Difference between ADD and ADHD?

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?


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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