The Difference Between ADD and ADHD

By | August 12, 2018


ADD and ADHD are both deficit disorders that mostly affect children, even though grown-ups can also show signs of these. Even though the two might look like one and the same to the untrained eye, they do differ on several points.

In this article, we will see exactly what ADD and ADHD stand for, and the main differences between them.

What is ADD?

Generally speaking, when people refer to ADD (or Attention Deficit Disorder), they really mean ADHD.

However, ADD does exist but only in relation to ADHD, as it represents 1 of its 3 subtypes. In 1994, the designation was changed in the DSM-IV(the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition) to ADHD-PI, in order to reflect that kinship.

The main symptoms of ADD or ADHD-PI are:





What is ADHD?

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the general designation for all mental as well as neurobehavioral disorders which show symptoms of impulsiveness, inattention and hyperactivity.

As we mentioned in the previous slide, there are 3 subtypes of ADHD that distinguish themselves by the dominant features of their syndrome:

-ADHD-PI: where the main deficit is inattention

-ADHD-HI : where the culprits are hyperactivity and impulsiveness

-ADHD-C : a combination of the first two. A child who is diagnosed with ADHD-C presents all three symptoms in (almost) equivalent proportions

Differences between ADD & ADHD

As we just learned throughout this presentation, to ask what the differences between ADD & ADHD are is skewed. You can’t compare the two because one is a subtype of the other.

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What we should do instead is determine the difference between ADD and the other two types of ADHD (not the syndrome as a whole).

Here is what we can say:

• While ADHD-HI and ADHD-C are determined by high levels of hyperactivity, ADHD-PI sufferers will show no sign of impulsivity

• Compared to the other subtypes, ADHD-PI (or ADD) is characterized by fatigue and lethargy on the patient’s part

Different but Similar in Treatment?

If every subtype of ADHD possesses its own set of symptoms, can they all – under the cover of a shared group – be treated the same way?

Looking at recent studies, it seems that effective techniques used to manage one type of ADHD works for the others as well.

Those proven methods are:

– Medication I: the use of stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall can help in making the person feel calmer and more able to focus

– Medication II: antidepressants like Zoloft or Prozac might achieve the same result if, for one reason or another, the patient can’t take stimulants

– Therapy: psycho or behavioral therapy are good candidates as they improve the different organizational skills of the child


ADD and ADHD are interchangeable in everyday speech; however, they do represent different disorders and realities.

We hope that, with this article, you will understand the differences between the two and learn how to recognize their symptoms and deal with them.

For more information, tests and tips on ADHD, check out our site of reference:

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