Information on ADHD’s history and treatment timeline


ADD and ADHD are often confused for one another – or some people might use them interchangeably. But to truly understand these terms, it’s important to understand what they mean and how they’re used in mental health today.


What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?

In the past, inattentive type ADHD was called “ADD” and the hyperactivity-impulsive type was called “ADHD.” Today, that’s no longer the case. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the preferred medical term for the mental health condition that was once called ADD. ADD and ADHD are both considered subtypes of the same disorder and fall under the umbrella of the term “ADHD.”



The symptoms are different for each type. This can look like the classic “bouncing off the walls” energy people often associate with ADHD. But it can also be manifested as profound disorganization, feeling spacey, or being unusually quiet.


The disorder known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has three distinct subtypes:


  • Inattentive
  • Hyperactive-impulsive
  • Combined


Inattentive ADHD

  • Having trouble paying attention to details
  • Making “careless” or small mistakes
  • Often not seeming to pay attention when spoken to
  • Often not following through on projects or following instructions
  • Having difficulty organizing activities and tasks
  • Avoiding engaging in tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Losing things needed for important tasks, like your keys or wallet
  • Being easily distracted by small or extraneous things
  • Being forgetful in daily activities


Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD

  • Fidgeting or squirming in situations where it’s disruptive
  • Interrupting people mid-sentence
  • Talking excessively
  • Having trouble engaging in leisure activities quietly



Symptoms for this type are a combination of inattentive type and hyperactive-impulsive type.


adults and children

ADHD is often viewed as something only children struggle with, but adults have it as well. Some people expect children to “grow out” of having ADHD, which often isn’t the case.


Living with ADHD, whether as a child or as an adult, can get in the way of attaining your goals and can impact your self-esteem.


When to see a doctor? 

If your ADHD symptoms get in the way of your daily functioning or cause you significant distress, it’s time to see a doctor or mental health professional for a plan.



Your mental health provider or doctor will ask you a series of questions from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition (DSM-5) to determine how much your symptoms impact your daily functioning. They may also have you undergo testing to evaluate your ability to focus on tasks for prolonged periods of time.



While there’s currently no cure for ADHD, your symptoms can be treated and managed – usually with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.



Medication is the most common ADHD treatment. There are stimulant options (the most common option) like Ritalin and Adderall, as well as non-stimulant options.



Therapy like behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other modalities can help with other issues that stem from your ADHD, like self-esteem issues or depression and anxiety that can surface as a result of living with ADHD.


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