ADHD is a condition that affects the developmental part of the brain.
Behavior therapy can be used to help ADHD symptoms.

What is the Difference Between ADD and ADHD?

The difference between ADD and ADHD first starts in their meanings. ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADD stands for attention deficient disorder. ADD was a term invented in 1980 to describe what is now known as ADHD. At the time, ADHD was misunderstood by most people, even doctors.

In fact, it took medical researchers several more years to reach the understanding of ADHD as we know it today. As researchers made new discoveries about ADHD in the 1980s, they realized they had to change the name of ADHD to accurately describe ADHD. Researchers found out that people with ADHD almost always have both hyperactive and inattentive symptoms. That’s why the term ADHD replaced ADD in 1987.

At best, ADD could describe predominately inattentive ADHD, a presentation of ADHD. The other presentation of ADHD is hyperactive-impulsive.

The Difference Between Inattentive ADHD and Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD

To get a diagnosis for either presentation of ADHD, see which symptoms are most similar to your own and consult with your doctor.

Symptoms of inattentive ADHD:

  • Unable to sustain attention for lengthy periods of time
  • Lacks the desire to organize things in an efficient and neat manner. This includes putting things in piles and casting aside belongings.
  • Notes, cell phones and car keys will get lost often
  • Fails to do anything on-time. From appointments to assignments and meetings, people with ADHD tend to be late. This is usually because they take too long to do something or get distracted when they should be getting ready.
  • Gets easily distracted
  • May be slower at performing and completing tasks
  • Does not pay close attention to details at work or school
  • Takes longer than everyone else to process information

Symptoms of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD:

  • Tends to talk all the time
  • Inability to sit still
  • May act impulsively
  • May have issues processing emotions
  • May be impatient

Both presentations of the condition have one thing in common, which is distraction. People with ADHD are more likely to get distracted because their brains are searching for enjoyment. To be more precise, people who have this condition do not sustain their focus for long periods of time on things they find boring. They focus on the most interesting thing in the room or their mind at the time.

Treatment Options

For the most part, the inattentive type and hyperactive-impulsive type can be treated the same way. Behavioral therapy can treat both presentations of ADHD. The effectiveness of the therapy process depends on each individual. The treatment focuses more on the individual rather than the presentation of the type of condition they have.


The most common medication or drug used to treat any form of ADHD are stimulants. Stimulants tend to come in pill form, as a liquid or even a patch. It is believed that stimulants help to keep constant levels of dopamine in the brain. Some common stimulants include Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta.

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Behavioral Therapy and Parent Training

The whole premise and goal of behavioral therapy is teaching different behavior patterns. For example, changing negative patterns into positive ones. This therapy option often requires the parents to work closely with their child, as habits must be implemented at home.

Diet Changes

To help people with ADHD, it is good to make sure that foods that are high in sugar and caffeine are avoided. Since people with this condition already tend to be hyper, sugar and caffeine will only cause them to become more restless and jittery.

Social Skills Training

While the other forms of therapy are effective, like behavioral and parent training, social skills training focuses more on decreasing the levels of aggression in someone with ADHD. This helps people with ADHD to manage their anger and react to social situations appropriately.


Like social skills training, psychotherapy also focuses on a specific area, but instead of aggression, psychotherapy focuses on impulsivity and procrastination. The goal of this type of therapy is to control impulses and to help people with ADHD to feel more motivated.

For children under six years old, therapy is recommended over medication. Most ADHD treatment strategies involve the use of at least three methods like medication, therapy and a diet change.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

It is good to talk to your doctor about your child if you notice ADHD symptoms and if these symptoms are affecting their daily routines. An important thing to bring up to your doctor is letting them know what your child struggles with and when the symptoms are most evident. Knowing the triggers can help your doctor pinpoint a treatment plan. Keeping a journal can be helpful as well. Take notes about how your child reacts and when.

It’s good to remember to be patient, that the process will take time. Treatment may not work right away; it could take several months. Make sure to let your doctor know if your child’s behavior changes and keep asking questions. Staying on top of your child’s condition will make their life and your life easier.