ADD or ADHD | What is the Difference ADD or ADHD ?

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Is there a difference between "ADHD" and "ADD" ?

It can be a bit confusing, but the "difference between ADD and ADHD" is really just a matter of terms.

Once the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual (DSM 3) referred to the disorder as either "Attention Deficit Disorder - with hyperactivity" or "Attention Deficit Disorder - without hyperactivity." This is how the two terms "ADD" (without hyperactivity) or "ADHD" (with hyperactivity) were formed.

Way back in 1994 the APA came out with the new manual (DSM 4) that changed the category to "Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder" and then described three sub-categories:

  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type

At this point the term "ADD" was really obsolete, but it was part of the cultural vocabulary.

On the internet it is very difficult to use the term "ADD" as it looks like a word used in mathematics, or on forms to insert an item. "ADD Child" might mean a child with attention disorder, or that you should have another baby, or that there is a list that you should add another name to.

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So on the internet today the most common term is "ADHD" and for the sake of the good ol' days we refer often to "ADD ADHD".

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Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., M.S. is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Tehachapi, CA who has been a counselor to children, teens, and adults helping them to overcome ADHD, find relief for depression or anxiety, and solve other problems in life since 1989. He served on the medical advisory board to the company that makes Attend and Extress from 1997 through 2011, and he is the Editor of the ADHD Information Library online resource at His weekly ADHD Newsletter goes out to 9,500 families. Visit his website at for more information on achieving greater health, personal growth, Christ-centered spirituality, stress management, parenting skills, ADHD, working out the stresses of being a care-giver to elderly parents and also being a parent to teenagers, or finding greater meaning in retirement years, Dr. Cowan can be a valuable resource to you.

Counselor counseling Tehachapi for ADHD, depression, anxiety, and more.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., MFT
27400 Oakflat Dr.
Tehachapi, CA 93561
(661) 972-5953

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