ADD and ADHD: A General Overview

What is ADHD?
ADHD is a diagnoses that is based on behavioral symptoms, such as inattentiveness or hyperactivity/impulsivity. The face of ADHD is evolving; it is a widespread disorder that has researchers frequently re-thinking how they classify the disorder. In fact, while the disorder was predominantly referred to as 'Attention Deficit Disorder' (ADD) in the past, new research has created a shift toward naming the disorder 'Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder' (ADHD) with three subtypes. One of these three subtypes is ADD as it was formerly understood. ADD is still frequently used as a generic title for the disorder; however, ADHD is more accurate in conveying that the disorder can involve trouble with inattentiveness and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. While the condition can be frustrating for those affected by it, prescribed and drug-free treatment is available.

The disorder affects 3-5% of children or 1.5 to 3.5 million individuals in the US. Traditionally, it is thought to occur more frequently in boys than in girls, but new research highlights that the number of girls with ADHD may be underestimated. This is because girls don't exhibit the most salient symptom, hyperactivity, as frequently as boys do.

First, let's take a look at the three main subtypes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as this will bring you up on the current classification of ADHD.

  1. Predominantly Inattentive Subtype: This subtype was formerly known as ADD; individuals with this subtype have trouble with attentiveness.

  2. Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Subtype: Individuals who are diagnosed with the hyperactive/impulsive subtype of ADHD mainly exhibit physical restlessness and have trouble curbing impulsive thoughts, words or behaviors.

  3. Combined Subtype: The combined subtype is the most prevalent type of ADHD.
There is another school of thought, led by Dr. Daniel Amen, which proposes there are as many as six subtypes of ADHD based on brain SPECT imaging findings. To find out more about the three main subtypes, including their symptoms and treatment, visit our more in-depth articles on ADHD.

Dealing with ADHD in children can be very difficult. It may help to chat online with others.