ADHD vs ADD – Recognizing the Differences

adhd vs add

What is ADHD vs ADD?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) share many similarities. Their names, some of their symptoms, and the age group often related to these conditions are often similar. However, ADHD vs ADD are not the same diagnosis and can respond differently to treatments.

In fact, ADD is now considered to be an outdated term. It describes a certain type of ADHD and the related symptoms. Basically, it’s a type of ADHD that doesn’t embody all of the condition’s symptoms – such as hyperactivity.

In this article, we’re going to compare ADHD vs. ADD so that you can learn the difference between these two different psychiatric conditions.

What Is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a condition that affects many people around the world. While the majority of people who struggle with ADHD are young, it can also affect adults. 


ADHD affects a person’s ability to focus. They often have a hard time following a train of thought, a conversation, or an idea. People with ADHD struggle to study in school and often require specialized lessons in a way that can consistently engage them.


ADHD also has a hyperactive aspect. People with ADHD are often impulsive and seem to bounce from one idea, conversation, or activity to the next. They become quickly immersed in one thing for a few moments before jumping to the next.


Common examples of symptoms of ADHD include:


  • Restlessness and an inability to sit still without fidgeting or squirming
  • Frequently running, jumping, or climbing
  • Inability to remain quiet, even in formal settings like school or in a theater
  • Blurting out thoughts, ideas, or answers before someone has finished speaking
  • Being unable to wait in a line
  • Difficulty waiting for their turn
  • Interrupting others

What Is ADD?

ADD is an outdated term which describes what is presently called “inattentive ADHD.” It’s a type of ADHD that lacks the hyperactivity symptoms commonly associated with regular ADHD. 


People who have inattentive ADHD are often spacey and sometimes display apathetic behavior (apathy is a lack of interest or enthusiasm, some might call it “laziness”). Adults who don’t manage the ADD may develop mood disorders like anxiety or depression, or have social problems as a result of the condition. 


In all cases, people with ADD often have a hard time focusing and can seem very forgetful. They may have a hard time following a conversation, a school lesson, or a movie.


Many of the symptoms of inattentive-type ADHD are the same as ADD. Some can include:


  • Difficulty focusing on details
  • Having a hard time directing their attention to any one thing
  • Difficulty listening, seeming like they aren’t paying attention during conversation
  • Difficulty following or remembering instructions
  • Having a hard time organizing
  • Resistance to participating in activities that require sustained focus
  • Forgetfulness
  • Being late for things often

Combined-Type ADHD

Combined-type ADHD occurs when someone has more than 6 symptoms of inattentive-type ADHD as well as 6 or more symptoms of regular ADHD. 


Males are generally more likely to display hyperactivity, whereas females are more likely to struggle with inattentive-type ADD. However, both men and women are able to develop combined-type ADHD.

ADHD vs. ADD Conclusion

ADHD and ADD are similar, but different conditions. They both involve difficulty maintaining focus. Understanding the differences between the two conditions is important if you want to treat them properly.

Dr. Sean Paul, MD is a Psychiatrist who treats ADD and ADHD both in person and via online psychiatry.