You may have heard the terms ADD and ADHD used interchangeably. Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are indeed the same situations; it’s just that ADHD has had several name changes in the last three decades. This is because as more research is carried out, understanding grows and the name has been changed to reflect that knowledge.
This situation is sometimes called attention deficit disorder (ADD), but this is an outdated term. The term was once used to refer to someone who had trouble focusing but was not hyperactive. The DSM-5 changed the criteria to diagnose someone with ADHD.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published by the American Psychiatric Association. It’s the standard guideline that doctors, mental health professionals, and clinicians use when they’re assessing and diagnosing ADHD and other mental health issues.
Each new update and revision of the DSM is eagerly anticipated, as it can mean a big or small change in what each situation is called, and in the criteria for diagnosing them, including ADHD.
You can still use the term ADD and people will almost certainly understand you. Many doctors, clinicians, and writers use ADD to mean inattentiveness and use ADHD to describe someone with hyperactivity. Some people use ADD and ADHD interchangeably. However, if you can make the mental switch from ADD to ADHD, it will help avoid potential confusion and keep you up-to-date with the most current terms.
There are three types of ADHD:
Inattentive ADHD is what’s generally meant when someone uses the term ADD. This means a person shows enough symptoms of inattention (or easy distractibility) but isn’t hyperactive or impulsive.
This typically occurs when a person has symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity but not inattention.
Combined ADHD is when a person has symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
The Hyperactivity Component
Many people with inattentive ADHD feel that using hyperactivity in the name of the situation they have misrepresents their struggles. Often when laypeople hear ADHD, they automatically think “hyperactivity” and they don’t understand the subtleties of the different presentations. Of course, you don’t have to share your diagnosis with anyone, but if you choose to, you can elaborate a little and explain that it’s inattentive ADHD, which helps clarification straight away.
Many adults with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD don’t feel that the “H” correctly describes them either. When we think of hyperactivity, a child who is very physically active and not capable to sit still in class comes to mind.