Difference between ADD and ADHD

Published on November 30, 2015

The term ADD is used for Attention Deficit disorder, whereas ADHD is an ellipsis for Attention Deficit Hyperactive disorder. The jargon used for the conditions may be different, but the disorders are almost same with a minor difference. What causes the conditions is still unknown. Nevertheless, some risk factors can help us recognize these conditions.



ADHD, which refers to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, can be defined as a neurobehavioral disorder which is usually first displayed by a person during childhood but can extend into adulthood. A multitude of symptoms can help identify the condition. These may include inability to concentrate, disorganization, procrastination, fretting, getting impatient, inability to accomplish a task, and forgetfulness.

This condition is broadly categorized into three types, i.e. inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined. A person is diagnosed with the inattentive type when he is not able to pay attention or gets easily distracted, but does not get hyperactive. Such people are usually diagnosed with ADD. The hyperactive-impulsive type is that which makes its patients hyperactive and impulsive while they can still be attentive. The third type is the combined type, in which people are inattentive as well as hyperactive and impulsive.

ADD (Attention Deficit disorder) is a term that was adopted first, in 1980, and was in common use until at least 1987. ADHD was earlier dubbed ADD, whether or not a person showed the symptom of hyperactivity. It was the word ‘hyperactivity’ that turned ADD into ADHD.


ADD and ADHD hardly differ from each other. And this difference is quite easy to recognize as well as describe. ADD means Attention Deficit disorder, which is completely justifiable. When a person is not able to pay attention at all, he may be diagnosed as having ADD. This condition affects his whole life, whether he is in school, office, or at home or a party. Patients with ADD may find it very tough to listen to others properly. Thus, they may often fail to remember what another person has said to them. They may find it difficult to read and write. They travel in varied directions at the same time in their minds.

In the case of ADHD, the character “H” enters, which refers to hyperactivity. Clearly, with this condition, the sufferer gets hyperactive. Now, this hyperactivity may be accompanied by inattention, which makes the condition ADHD-Combined, or it may be free of inattention, which makes the condition hyperactive-impulsive ADHD.

Comparison Chart

ADD stands for Attention Deficit disorder.ADHD refers to Attention Deficit “Hyperactivity” Disorder.
ADD causes inattention in a person.When a person suffers hyperactivity or both hyperactivity and inattention, it is ADHD.
The actual cause is still not known.Artificial colouring in food and food preservatives may contribute to ADHD.
ADD is a somewhat obsolete term which has largely been replaced by the term ADHD.ADHD has been used since the 1990s.
ADD is not subdivided.ADHD is subdivided into three forms: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined.


This video better explains the difference between ADD and ADHD.