We have all seen them; the kids who have preternaturally high levels of energy who flit from one activity to another, losing interest before even engaging in 5 minutes of any one activity. We have heard names attached to these kids; ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) – what is the difference between these two diagnoses?
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, both ADD, and ADHD are part of the same spectrum of disorders characterized by inattentiveness (poor ability to pay attention), and over impulsivity (acting on urges without thought to consequences). ADHD has the extra added element of hyperactivity. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; Version 5 (DSM V), ADD no longer exists as a formal diagnosis; but rather is the outdated way that many people who aren’t in the know refer to ADHD, Rather than giving ADD a separate diagnosis, the American Psychiatric Association has instead chosen to give three distinct subtypes to ADHD:
Predominantly Inattentive Presentation – the person show symptoms of mainly inattentive, and as much impulsive and hyperactive (what we traditionally have thought of as ADD)
Predominantly Hyperactive and Impulsive Presentation – this person suffers the inverse symptoms from the previous presentation; mainly hyperactive and impulsive, but not very inattentive.
Combined Presentation – this person exhibits all three main criteria: inattentive, impulsive and hyperactive.
So whether you are speaking of ADD or ADHD, you are referring to a triad of symptoms that vary in severity in three areas: inattentiveness, impulsivity and hyperactivity. We all suffer with these traits from time to time. As a parent of an 11 and a 13 year old, I can tell you that I feel easily distracted with all the s**t I have to do quite often, but that doesn’t mean I have ADHD. In order for a formal diagnosis to be made, a child has to exhibit at least 6 traits or symptoms on a list of traits outlined in the DSM V for at least 6 months. In order to be diagnosed as an adult with ADHD, you have to exhibit 5 traits for at least 6 months.
I am not a medical professional, but rather a mom who is very curious and a good researcher, so I preface the following information by asking you not to use the information I have presented to diagnose your cat, dog, parakeet, or neighbours kid with ADHD. Consult a professional if you have concerns. I find drugs very interesting and love to research how they act on the brain. Here are some of the comically named drugs and their classifications used to treat ADHD:
Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, Focalin, Metadate, Methylin, Ritalin, Vyvanse, Daytrana, Quillivant
Non Stimulant Drugs
Strattera, Intuniv, Kapvay
Elavil, Norpramin, Pamelor, Tofranil
Catapres, Duraclon, Kapvay, Nexiclon, Tenex, Wellbutrin