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ADD vs. ADHD: What’s the Difference?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect both children and adults. It is characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Some people may also refer to it as ADD (attention deficit disorder), which was previously used to describe individuals with the inattentive subtype of ADHD. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, ADHD is now the official diagnosis according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Northeast Health Services provides ADHD treatment services that can help you or a loved one manage symptoms and improve daily functioning. Working with a professional can also provide a proper diagnosis, as ADHD symptoms can overlap with other conditions, such as anxiety or learning disabilities.

Call 508.794.8711 today if you’re ready to get started.

The History of ADHD and ADD

While ADHD was first described in the early 20th century, it wasn’t until the 1960s that it gained recognition as a legitimate condition. At that time, it was referred to as hyperkinetic impulse disorder or minimal brain dysfunction. In the 1980s, the term ADD came into use to describe individuals who had difficulty paying attention but did not exhibit hyperactivity. However, as research progressed, it became clear that ADHD was a spectrum disorder with various subtypes and presentations.

While the term ADD is no longer used in the medical community, many people still refer to it colloquially. Both ADHD and ADD refer to the same condition and should not be considered separate diagnoses.

How to Diagnose ADHD

Diagnosing ADHD can be complex and requires a thorough evaluation by a trained professional. The process typically involves:

  • A physical exam and medical history to rule out any underlying health conditions or medications that may be causing symptoms
  • An assessment of behavior and symptoms by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist
  • Gathering information from parents, partners, or teachers about the individual’s behavior and functioning in different settings
  • Using standardized rating scales to measure ADHD symptoms and determine severity
  • Reviewing past history of symptoms, including childhood behaviors, academic performance, and relationships with peers

It’s important to note that ADHD is a clinical diagnosis, meaning there is no definitive test for it. Instead, the diagnosis is based on a comprehensive evaluation and observation of symptoms.

Treating ADHD

The good news is that ADHD is a highly treatable condition. One of the most common forms of treatment is medication. Stimulants, such as Adderall or Ritalin, are often prescribed to help improve focus and reduce hyperactivity. Non-stimulant medications may also be used in certain situations.

However, medication is not the only option for managing ADHD symptoms. Therapy can also be beneficial in teaching skills for coping with impulsivity, improving time management, and addressing any underlying emotional issues. Working with a mental health professional can also help clients and their families better understand ADHD and develop strategies for managing symptoms.

A combination of medication and therapy is often the most effective approach for treating ADHD. For adults with ADHD, making lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise and practicing good sleep habits can also be helpful in managing symptoms.

Reach Out to Northeast Health Services for ADHD Treatment Services in Massachusetts

Our locations across Massachusetts help clients navigate ADHD alongside treatment for other mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. We’re making effective, evidence-based treatment as accessible as possible.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your mental health journey, click here to reach out to our team of empathetic mental health care experts. For existing clients, please click here and find your office location to contact your office directly.