ADD vs ADHD: What’s the difference between ADD & ADHD

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a broad term for a condition that affects millions. The condition used to be referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD) to refer to someone that had trouble focusing, but without the hyperactivity, however the term is outdated and no longer used.

Types of ADHD

People that are diagnosed with ADHD usually fall into one of three categories:

  1. Inattention
    Usually what was meant when the term ADD was used. Symptoms are inattention or easily distractable, trouble giving close attention to tasks, but without the hyperactivity or impulsivity that is experienced by other.
  2. Hyperactivity & Impulsivity
    This type refers to those that exhibit symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity such as fidgeting or difficulty staying still, interrupting others while they talk or difficulty waiting their turn, but do not show symptoms of inattention.
  3. Combined
    Combined ADHD is when both inattention and hyperactivity & impulsivity are present in the person.


Symptoms of ADHD can range from mild to severe, can interfere with school and work like, and include but are not limited to:

  • Inattention or easily distracted
  • Trouble focusing on tasks or close attention to details
  • Often not listening when being spoken to
  • Trouble with organization
  • Fidgeting, restlessness, inability to sit still
  • Interrupting others while they talk
  • Excessive talking


ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, boys are three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, and are often diagnosed five years earlier.

This doesn’t mean girls are less likely to have ADHD, however the symptoms manifest differently in boys and girls; boys being more likely to be hyperactive while girls may be more emotional or prone to day dreaming.


While most people are diagnosed with ADHD in childhood, some are diagnosed later in life, or miss being diagnosed until their adulthood.

Symptoms between children and adults differ, but the ones that tend to persist into adulthood include difficulty focusing or paying attention, impulsive behaviour, mood swings, trouble dealing with stress, poor planning, and struggling with work and personal relationships.

When to See a Medical Doctor

If you notice one or more of these symptoms in your child for periods longer than 6 months, or these symptoms can be used to describe yourself, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor.

Different medical professionals (psychiatrists, doctors, etc.) will vary in their experience and ability in treating ADHD, but speaking to a doctor is a good first step towards getting a diagnosis, and a plan of action in treating it.