ADHD vs. ADD: What’s the Difference?

ADHD vs. ADD: What’s the Difference?

So what’s the deal… is it ADD or ADHD? Dr. H answers this common question and explains how symptoms determine which type of ADHD you have.

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Pre-order Now!  Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0.

Check out Dr. H on TikTok! @drhallowell

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Dr. H takes OmegaBrite supplements every day and that’s why he invited them to sponsor his podcast. SAVE 20% on your first order at OmegaBriteWellness.com with the promo code: Podcast2020.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Dr. H has an honorary degree from Landmark!

What’s your opinion? Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their omega three supplements for many years and so has my wife and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at omegabritetwellness.com and “brite” is intentionally misspelled, B-R-I-T-E, omegabritewellness.com. This episode is also sponsored by Landmark College another institution that I have a warm personal relationship with in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode. One question that comes up in the ADHD world all the time is what is the difference between ADHD and ADD. So let me clarify and bring some resolution to the confusion.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Technically, attention deficit disorder, ADD, no longer exists. In the diagnostic manual the DSM-5 there is no ADD. When I first learned about the condition back in 1981, it was, indeed, called ADD, attention deficit disorder, and that was what was in the DSM-3, the third incarnation of that manual.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, as the years went by, the good people who make up the names of these conditions decided to insert the letter H, ADHD, attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder. And then rather than saying, “We have ADD and ADHD,” they said, “No, it’s all going to be under the umbrella of ADHD.” And those people who are not hyperactive, we will call ADHD primarily inattentive because their main symptom is distractibility and inattention. And those people who are both inattentive, and hyperactive and impulsive, we’ll call them ADHD combined type. Now that leaves room for a third type, which would be only symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity with no problems with attention, but you virtually never see that so it’s only of academic interest.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So there you have it, ADHD. There is no ADD, but clinically there is, and we call that ADHD primarily inattentive. Now, why is that relevant? Well, because a lot of people who have ADHD, primarily inattentive, mainly women and girls, but can be in men, never get diagnosed because they don’t have the disruptive symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. They don’t call attention to themselves, be they a child throwing spitballs in the classroom, or an adult raising hell in the landscape.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So what happens is the women, the females usually, get overlooked because they’re demure, they’re quiet. They’re sitting in the back of the room daydreaming. You have to ask them what’s it like in the classroom? And they say, “Well, I’m almost never there.” You see? Because they’re off in their own world. And that’s why they don’t get missed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And then when they become adults, if they show up and ask for help, almost always, they get diagnosed with depression or anxiety or both. And sure enough, they are a little bit unhappy, depressed, because they’re underachieving and they know they could be doing better and they don’t know why. And they are kind of anxious because they don’t know how they’re going to screw up next. But both the so-called depression and anxiety are caused by the untreated ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And so if you’re a woman who is underachieving and it has a tendency to be a daydreamer and is creative and all the positives, things that go with it, consider ADHD, primarily inattentive as your diagnosis and don’t take depression and anxiety as your primary diagnosis because if you do, you’ll get put on an SSRI, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, which might do a little bit of good, but it has side effects that are not pleasant and also won’t get at the underlying condition, which is the ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
For that if you’re going to take a medication, you need stimulant medication. Okay, which by the way, is safe and effective as long as it’s used properly. That’s it. That’s the explanation. It’s very clear and causes a lot of unnecessary confusion. It’s an important clinical point to know that you can have ADHD without being disruptive, without being hyperactive. There you have it. Okay, before I go, I’d like to thank our sponsor, Omega Brite Wellness, go to omegabritewellness.com and save 20% on your first order with the promo code podcast 2020.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineering editor is the wonderful Scott Persson and our producer is the also wonderful Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell wishing you well until we meet again.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at Omega Brite Wellness. I take their supplements every day and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at omegabrite, and that’s B-R-I-T-E, wellness.com.

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