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Many people use “ADD” and “ADHD” interchangeably, but the truth is that these two terms describe slightly different conditions. The confusion came about when doctors universally decided to categorize all forms of attention-deficit disorders as “attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.” However, some individuals who have attention-deficit disorder aren’t necessarily hyperactive, and individuals who are hyperactive don’t necessarily have issues with paying attention. For this reason, it’s important that you understand the difference between the two conditions so that you can determine a treatment that is best for you or your child.
ADD is a highly misused term, as most people use it to mean someone who demonstrates both an inability to maintain focus for long periods of time and hyperactivity. However, ADD is when a person shows enough symptoms of distractibility but not signs of impulsive or hyperactive behavior. A doctor may diagnose ADD if your child presents six of the following symptoms:
ADHD is the condition that most people think of when they hear the term ADD. Yet, only a small percentage of people diagnosed with ADHD actually have this condition. To be diagnosed with ADHD, your child must present six of the following symptoms:
Of course, these are all symptoms that most children present at some point throughout childhood. For this reason, it’s best to avoid self-diagnosis and rely on professional testing if you or a loved one presents six or more of the above symptoms.
Finding the right treatment is crucial to helping your child manage his or her symptoms. There are drug and non-drug treatments for ADD and ADHD, both of which come with their unique sets of benefits and pitfalls. Behavior modification therapy is the most effective form of treatment in terms of long-term results. However, non-drug treatments require an extensive and ongoing commitment. Drugs offer the most immediate results, but they often pose long-term health risks and their effectiveness tends to wane over time.
If you suspect that your child has ADD or ADHD, talk to your doctor about your concerns. If testing comes back positive, he or she will guide you toward the best treatments for ADD and ADHD.
“ADD Vs. ADHD: What’s the Difference?” ADDitude Editors.
“ADD Vs. ADHD.” WebMD.
Maria Oneida, MD
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.