Go to Top

Is it ADD or ADHD?

Is it ADD or ADHD?

Photo credit to cbc.ca

Is there a difference between ADD and ADHD? The answer to this inquiry is more complex than it may seem. The basis for this is twofold. Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, in the scientific world, is the old medical word for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. In addition, ADD, however, is the term used by a couple of lay individuals to describe those people with ADHD who are not impulsive or hyperactive. In the medical world, these two terms can be interchanged. However, in the lay community, these terms may refer to two different delinquents.

ADD, the old scientific term, utilized by researchers and physicians for a disorder that is referred today as ADHD. Both the researchers and physicians, no longer utilize the term ADD. In the late 80’s, DSM, the handbook of psychiatric diagnosis was brought up-to-date. The latest DSM IV considered replacing ADD with ADHD since individuals with ADHD are mostly hyperactive. However, DSM IV designated three subclasses of ADHD. The impulsive or hyperactive subclass is labeled as ADHD-HI, the Predominantly Inattentive subclass is labeled as ADHD-PI, and the combination of this two is ADHD-C.

As expected, lay people fail to read or be up-to-date with DSM IV. They sometimes use ADD to refer someone with ADHD and also, they use the term to refer someone with ADHD who is not impulsive or hyperactive.

Even though these two terms can be used interchangeably by some people, there is a great difference between ADHD-HI, ADHD-PI, and ADHD-C. A couple of psychiatrists consider that ADHD-PI is very much distinct from the other subclasses of ADHD that the APA or American Psychiatric Association have considered on eliminating ADHD-PI from the DSM category.

Russell Barkley, PhD, who is an expert in ADHD, has said that ADHD-PI is the ‘real’ ADD. He studied the inattentive subclass extensively and has discovered that their main symptom is attention deficit. They are not impulsive or hyperactive and they respond to treatments in a different manner. They also have distinct comorbidities and long-term problems.

ADD, at this present time, is now the term used by many people to refer ADHD-PI. When the medical and scientific communities change the term ADD to ADHD, they mean to use these terms in turn. A number of lay communities, on the other hand, has adopted the term ADD to describe people with inattentiveness but without hyperactivity.

There is a disparity between Russell Barkley’s ‘true’ ADD and ADHD. When individuals use the term ADD to refer to people with ADHD, they should be asked if they mean if the person has ADHD-PI or has the most common forms of ADHD. ADHD-PI is somewhat different from the other subclasses of ADHD and knowing the meaning of these terms is essential.