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The Differences Between ADHD and ADD

Table of Contents

1. What is ADHD?
2. What is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)?
3. Difference between ADHD and ADD
4. Symptoms of ADHD and ADD
5. What Causes ADHD and ADD?
6. Role of Integrative Psych in Treating ADHD and ADD
7. Frequently Asked Questions

What is ADHD?

ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity patterns. It primarily affects children but can continue into adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty focusing, restlessness, impulsivity, and trouble with organization. Treatment often involves a combination of behavioral interventions and medication. Early diagnosis and management can improve daily functioning and overall quality of life.

What is Attention Deficit Disorder?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) was previously used to describe a subtype of ADHD characterized by significant difficulties with attention and focus without prominent hyperactive or impulsive behaviors. However, it is now considered a part of ADHD, encompassing all individuals with attention-related challenges.

ADD is not a label; it's a unique way of thinking and experiencing the world.

Difference between ADHD and ADD

ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) have been used to describe two distinct subtypes of attention-related disorders. However, as of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published in 2013, the term "ADD" is no longer used as a separate diagnosis. Instead, the DSM-5 uses the time ADHD to encompass all disorder presentations.

In the past, ADD was used to describe individuals who primarily exhibited symptoms of inattention without significant hyperactivity or impulsivity. ADHD, on the other hand, refers to individuals who display signs of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. This distinction was based on the belief that ADHD could have three subtypes:

1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: This subtype was referred to as ADD. It characterized individuals who struggled mainly with inattention, such as having difficulty sustaining attention, being easily distracted, and having organizational challenges.

2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: This subtype involved significant hyperactivity and impulsivity without prominent inattention.

3. Combined Presentation: This subtype encompassed individuals with inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms.

However, the DSM-5 simplified the diagnostic criteria by combining these subtypes under the umbrella term ADHD. This change aimed to recognize that symptoms can vary across individuals and throughout development and that many individuals experience a combination of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Therefore, in current clinical practice, the terms ADHD and ADD are often used interchangeably. When discussing ADHD, it is more accurate to specify the individual's predominant symptoms, such as "ADHD, predominantly inattentive presentation" or "ADHD, combined presentation."

It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and to discuss the specific symptoms and challenges an individual is experiencing to determine the most appropriate treatment and management strategies.

Having ADHD doesn't mean you can't pay attention. It means you have to pay attention differently.

Symptoms of ADHD and ADD

ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that significantly impacts an individual's daily functioning. The symptoms can vary in presentation and severity among individuals, but here are the common symptoms associated with ADHD:


Difficulty sustaining attention: Individuals may need help focusing on tasks or activities, get easily distracted by external stimuli, or need help staying engaged in activities requiring mental effort.

  • Poor organization and planning skills: They may need help organizing tasks, managing time effectively, and often need help finding essential items.
  • Forgetfulness: Forgetfulness regarding daily activities, appointments, and obligations is common.
  • Lack of attention to detail: Individuals with ADHD may struggle with paying attention to and overlooking essential components in schoolwork, work projects, or other activities.
  • Difficulty following instructions: They may need help comprehending and following through on education, particularly when multiple steps are involved.


  • Restlessness and fidgeting: Individuals may feel an inner sense of restlessness and constantly need to move around. They may often fidget, tap their hands or feet, or have difficulty staying seated for prolonged periods.
  • Excessive talking: They may engage in excessive talking, even in situations where it's not appropriate or necessary.
  • Difficulty engaging in quiet activities: People with ADHD may find engaging in activities requiring sustained mental effort or calm, solitary tasks challenging.


  • Impulsive decision-making: Individuals may make hasty decisions without fully considering the consequences. This impulsivity can lead to academic, professional, and personal difficulties.
  • Interrupting or intruding on others: They may have difficulty waiting for their turn during conversations and frequently interrupt or intrude on others.
  • Impatience: A sense of impatience is often experienced, leading to difficulty waiting in lines or situations that require delayed gratification.

It's important to note that not all individuals with ADHD will exhibit all these symptoms. The specific combination and severity of symptoms can vary among individuals, and their presentation may also change with age.

Suppose you suspect that you or someone you know may have ADHD. In that case, consulting with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and accurate diagnosis is recommended. They will consider the presence and impact of these symptoms in different settings and over time to determine the appropriate management and treatment strategies.

What causes ADHD and ADD?

The exact causes of ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and its previous subtype, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), are not fully understood. However, research suggests genetic, neurological, and environmental factors likely cause ADHD. Genetic factors play a role, as ADHD tends to run in families, and studies have identified several genes involved in neurotransmitter regulation and brain development. Neurological differences and abnormalities in brain structure and functioning have been observed in individuals with ADHD, including differences in brain size, activation, and connectivity.

Imbalances in neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine, and norepinephrine, are also associated with ADHD. Additionally, certain environmental factors, such as prenatal substance exposure, low birth weight, and exposure to environmental toxins, may contribute to developing or exacerbating ADHD symptoms. However, the interplay of these factors and their specific contributions to ADHD can vary among individuals.

Role of Integrative Psych in The treat ADHD and ADD

Integrative Psych can be invaluable in treating ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and its previous subtype, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Integrative Psych combines multiple therapeutic approaches, various theories, and techniques to address the complex needs of individuals.

Here are some ways in which we at Integrative Psych can contribute to the treatment of ADHD and ADD.

1. Comprehensive assessment: Integrative psych conduct thorough assessments to understand the individual's unique strengths, challenges, and underlying factors contributing to their symptoms. Symptoms may include evaluating cognitive functioning, emotional well-being, social skills, and the impact of environmental factors.

2. Multimodal treatment planning: We develop individualized treatment plans that incorporate a range of evidence-based interventions. These may include behavioral therapies, psychoeducation, counseling, and skill-building techniques to address specific attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity difficulties.

3. Behavioral interventions: Integrative Psych employ behavioral strategies to help individuals with ADHD develop and strengthen organizational skills, time management, and impulse control. They may provide practical techniques to improve attention, such as breaking tasks into manageable steps, creating structure and routines, and using visual aids or reminders.

4. Psychoeducation and self-management: We educate individuals with ADHD and their families about the condition, its impact, and coping strategies. They guide understanding and managing symptoms, improving self-awareness, and implementing effective self-care practices. It empowers individuals to participate in their treatment and make informed decisions actively.

5. Counseling and emotional support: Integrative Psych offers counseling to individuals with ADHD to address emotional challenges often associated with the disorder, such as low self-esteem, frustration, anxiety, or depression. They may use cognitive-behavioral techniques, mindfulness-based approaches, or other therapeutic modalities to help individuals develop coping skills, emotional regulation, and resilience.

It's important to note that the specific integrative approaches used may vary depending on the psychologist's preferences and the individual's needs. Treatment for ADHD is highly individualized, and a comprehensive evaluation and ongoing assessment help guide the selection of the most suitable interventions for each person.

Seeking treatment for ADHD in New York? Integrative Psych provides counseling, behavioral interventions, and psychoeducation to empower individuals and families in managing symptoms and improving daily functioning. Their comprehensive approach ensures personalized care and support for individuals with ADHD.

At Integrative Psych, we are your premier destination for integrative and evidence-based therapy in New York City. Our team of experienced and compassionate therapists specializes in a wide range of mental health services, tailored to meet your unique needs. Whether you are seeking assistance with psychodynamic therapy nyc, bipolar disorder nyc, high-functioning anxiety nyc, complex PTSD nyc, or any other mental health concerns, we are here to support you on your healing journey.

We offer specialized therapies such as light therapy nyc, anger management therapy nyc and OCD therapy in NYC. Our dedicated therapists work collaboratively with you to tailor treatment plans that suit your specific needs and goals. Additionally, we have ADHD doctors who provide comprehensive assessments and evidence-based interventions for individuals with ADHD, helping them manage their symptoms and improve their daily functioning.

Frequently asked questions

What are the common signs and symptoms of ADHD?

Common signs and symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, disorganization, restlessness, excessive talking, and difficulty waiting for one's turn.

Can ADHD be diagnosed in adulthood?

Yes, ADHD can be diagnosed in adulthood. Many individuals may not receive a diagnosis until later in life when their symptoms persist and affect their functioning. A comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional is necessary to determine an accurate diagnosis.

What is the difference between ADHD and autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

ADHD and ASD are two separate disorders with distinct diagnostic criteria. ADHD primarily involves difficulties with attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. At the same time, ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by challenges in social communication and interaction and restricted and repetitive behaviors or interests.

Can ADHD be managed without medication?

Yes, ADHD can be managed without medication. Non-medication strategies may include behavioral interventions, therapy, psychoeducation, structured routines, organizational techniques, and support from educators and family members. However, drugs may be considered to help manage symptoms effectively.

Does ADHD affect academic performance?

ADHD can significantly impact academic performance. Difficulties with attention, organization, time management, and impulsivity can make it challenging for individuals with ADHD to stay focused, complete assignments, and perform well in school. However, with appropriate support and interventions, individuals with ADHD can succeed academically.

Can adults outgrow ADHD?

ADHD is a lifelong condition, and the core symptoms often persist into adulthood. However, as individuals mature, they may develop coping mechanisms, learn strategies to manage their symptoms, and experience changes in the presentation of their symptoms. It is important to note that while symptoms may change, ADHD typically does not completely disappear.

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