People often use the term ADD and ADHD interchangeably and for those who are not very familiar with the disorder, the two terms can cause a lot of confusion. But all you need to know is that there is hardly any difference between ADD and ADHD. In fact, both names refer to the exact same disorder!
To understand how this came about, we need a brief lesson on the history of ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder. In the early 1980's, the American Psychiatric Association came up with the term ADD - attention deficit disorder - to describe symptoms of inattention, spaciness, and lack of focus that affect some children. The term ADD was put on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version 3, which is the diagnostic manual for mental diseases. However, when this edition was revised in 1987, ADD became ADHD or attention deficit hyperactive disorder.
When ADD became ADHD, the disorder was broken down into three subtypes.
The first type is called ADHD Inattentive Type without Hyperactivity, which is what the term ADD used to refer to. Children and adults diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type often exhibit symptoms that indicate an inability to sustain their attention and do tasks that require a certain amount of concentration and focus. As a result, they may get very poor grades in school. They also seem to spend a lot of time daydreaming and it takes a while before anyone can bring them back down to earth. It is more difficult to spot children with ADHD Inattentive Type as their behavior can be easily misdiagnosed as learning disabilities or as extreme shyness. Sometimes, those with ADHD Inattentive Type remain undiagnosed until they reach their teens or twenties and start exhibiting emotional problems like depression and anxiety.
The second type is called ADHD Hyperactive-Impulsive Type. This type of ADHD is often diagnosed in very young children because the symptoms are more obvious. Hyperactive-impulsive types are children who are very fidgety when made to sit still, and are always running around as though driven by a motor. They also seem to have a problem waiting their turn and constantly interrupt people who talk or intrude in games. Studies reveal that boys are more susceptible to ADHD Hyperactive-Impulsive type than girls.
The third type of ADHD is the Combined Type and the most complicated type of the three. An individual suffering from the Combined Type experiences a cocktail of all three core symptoms, as well as other complications like poor social skills and learning problems in school.
The different types of ADHD have two very interesting implications. First, the differences show that ADHD is caused by a complex interaction of biological factors and environmental factors; it is not a simple matter of chemical imbalance as western medicine would lead you to believe. Secondly, ADHD cannot be simply treated with medication. ADHD medications only suppress the symptoms; they never treat the underlying cause. It doesn't really matter if your son or daughter has the Inattentive Type, the Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, or the Combined Type. What your child needs is a holistic, natural treatment that will address his or her unique needs and help him or her overcome ADHD completely and without the nasty side-effects of medications.