ADHD Management

If you’ve heard the terms “ADHD” and “ADD” used interchangeably, you’re likely confused about the difference between the two. In reality, Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are the same conditions. Here’s a comprehensive guide to ADHD and its many names:


Attention-Deficit Disorder was previously used to refer to Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The word ‘ADD’ first appeared in 1980 when the Third Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was published.

During that time, experts divided individuals with ADHD into two subcategories:

  • ADD without hyperactivity
  • ADD with hyperactivity

However, the American Psychiatric Association’s revised edition combined these two subtypes into ADHD.

ADHD is a prevailing disability affecting 9.4% of children and 2.6% of adults globally.

Why the Two Names?

It’s no surprise that ADHD had several different names over the years. Here we’ve listed a few examples:

  • Abnormal defect of moral control in children
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Mental restlessness
  • Hyperkinetic impulse disorder

ADD was the previous official name of this condition, whereas ADHD is its modern name. Many experts still use ADD to describe different types of ADHD.

An Overview of the Timeline of ADHD’s Changing Names

In 1952 the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders was first published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and included guidelines for doctors, clinicians, and mental health professionals on how to diagnose psychiatric disorders.

Each new revision of the DSM features big or small changes about different conditions. Here we dive into the changing timeline of ADHD:

1980- DSM III

The official name for the condition in the DSM III became attention deficit disorder. During the 1980s, medical professionals did not consider hyperactivity a frequent symptom.

For this reason, they created two subtypes of ADD:

  • Without hyperactivity
  • With hyperactivity

1987- DSM III(Revised)

According to the revised version of the DSM III, hyperactivity was an essential feature of the condition. Consequently, the name switched to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

1994- DSM IV

In 1994, the APA published the DSM IV with particular grammar changes. The condition’s official name became attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, indicating that you could have either or both subtypes.

The three subtypes included:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, combined type
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, predominantly inattentive type

2013- DSM V

The DSM V did include any changes in the subtypes of ADHD. However, instead of ‘types,’ they’re now referred to as ‘presentations’:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, combined presentations
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentations
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, predominantly inattentive presentations

The Bottom Line

Many people with inattentive ADHD believe that ‘hyperactivity’ in the condition’s name misrepresents them.

However, the DSM V recognizes that your ADHD presentation and symptoms may change during your lifetime.

At Well Coast, we specialize in assessing and treating ADHD in men, women, and children.  Contact us at (833) 931-1716 to find out how we can help.

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