ADD or ADHD?

The way in which the mental health profession diagnoses and treats ADD has evolved over the last few decades. These days, the DSM-V defines three separate disorders that all fit within the larger category of ADHD. These are:

  • Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD
  • Primarily Inattentive ADHD
  • Combination ADHD

The diagnosis of ADD no longer exists according to the DSM-5. Instead, patients with those symptoms are now considered having Primarily Inattentive ADHD. Just as with the former ADD, Primarily Inattentive ADHD does not involve prevalent hyperactivity symptoms.

What was once called ADHD is now Primarily Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD. Finally, if someone presents with a combination of symptoms from the first two types, they are diagnosed with Combination ADHD.

Defining ADHD

Statistics show that just over 10 percent of children in the U.S. have a form of ADHD, while just under 5 percent of adults do. Going far beyond simple “attention” ADHD has an effect on memory, concentration, and a wide range of other cognitive functions.

While often associated with children, ADHD does happen in adults. For many adults with a diagnosis, diagnosis came late in life and they struggled with symptoms for years before receiving a diagnosis in adulthood.

Increased awareness of the disorder has led to an increase in diagnoses. This may also be due to environmental triggers, according to some experts. Whatever a cause, it is never a good idea to avoid diagnosis if you suspect symptoms of ADHD are present. Receiving a diagnosis means receiving treatment, and this means improving one’s quality of life.

Adult ADHD – Is it Different?

Symptoms in any disorder can look different from one patient to another; in ADHD, symptoms can look different from children to adults. .

Adult Symptoms of Inattention ADHD (Formerly Known as ADD Symptoms)

  • Not being able to focus on work or detailed tasks
  • No or little attention span, even when doing favorite things
  • Inability to attend to the speech of others
  • Faulty executive function
  • Forgetting daily tasks
  • Avoiding concentration-based tasks

Symptoms of Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD

  • Constant fidgeting
  • Feeling restless all the time
  • No ability to relax
  • Constant chatting
  • No turn taking skills

As stated previously, those with Combination ADHD present with some combination of the symptoms above from both categories. To qualify for a diagnosis, a patient must have at least 5 symptoms that last for at least 6 months and interfere with their daily life.

Childhood ADHD Symptoms

Diagnosing disorders in children is always more complex, especially when it comes to ADHD. Children are still developing and also express their thoughts and feelings in different ways from adults. If a parent or caregiver thinks ADHD may be present in a child, they can look for some of the following symptoms and consult with a mental health professional.

Childhood Inattentive ADHD symptoms:

  • Errors in schoolwork in areas they understand
  • Not playing with one toy or game for very long
  • Detachment from adults
  • Avoiding anything that requires concentration
  • Losing personal objects constantly

Childhood Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD symptoms:

  • Being unable to sit still in class
  • Fidgeting, tapping desk or objects
  • Running or climbing in inappropriate settings, such as the hallway or classroom
  • Excessive energy levels
  • Endless chatting
  • Interrupting others

To qualify for a diagnosis, a child should have six of these symptoms lasting at least 6 months.

Testing for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Our psychiatrists provide comprehensive ADHD testing services for both children and adults.

Treating ADHD

No one has developed a cure yet for ADHD. Mental health professionals, however, do have several interventions available to you that work well in treating this disorder.

Medication

One fact that strikes many as odd is that stimulants have traditionally been one of the best medications for ADHD. These medications work quickly and have shown to deliver positive results in the vast majority of people with ADHD.

In more recent years, MHPs have begun to use non-stimulants too to treat ADHD. While not as fast-acting, they may be a more viable alternative for some patients in the long term and are good for those who experience adverse reactions when on stimulants.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is another intervention that has shown positive results for those with ADHD. By working with a therapist, a patient can learn to eliminate and reduce destructive or negative habits and replace them with positive habits.

Parents and caregivers often take part in behavioral therapy with a child. This allows them to build the skills they need to support the child effectively.

Making Lifestyle Changes

Making adjustments and changes to one’s lifestyle can also make a significant difference in ADHD. Lifestyle changes a therapist might recommend might include:

  • Building and sticking with a daily routine
  • Eliminating any distractions in a classroom or workspace
  • Eating well
  • Exercising
  • Getting adequate sleep