The Difference between ADD and ADHD
Years ago, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were lumped together into one condition. More recently, society has begun to recognize clear distinctions between the conditions, and, in fact, there are scientific bases for the differences between ADD and ADHD in individuals’ minds. Both can be extremely challenging for both the individual struggling with it and caretakers, teachers, coworkers, and friends, but the conditions come with distinct implications that separate
them from each other.
What Is ADD?
ADD used to be the term that was used to describe all individuals with inattentive behavior. Today, the term is more limited in its implications. Individuals with ADD struggle to pay attention to one thing for a long period of time. ADD can manifest itself in a number of forms, including fear, anxiety, procrastination, mental confusion, and the appearance of daydreaming. ADD occurs because of excessive levels of activity in certain parts of the brain. Individuals with this condition tend to focus on everything around them, making it very difficult for them to focus on one thing, specifically.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD involves a similar level of distraction, but the manifestation of this condition is slightly different in that the individual tends to be constantly on the move. Individuals with ADHD are more impulsive, tending to speak and act before they think. ADHD (like ADD) varies in the extent of its effects, but in general, people with ADHD tend to fidget and move constantly, in addition to talking excessively. In addition, because there is little self-talk, those with ADHD have difficulty regulating themselves and wind up acting inappropriately or out of turn.
Scientific Basis for ADD and ADHD
Rather than being a scientific way to describe a certain brand of “kids being kids,” ADD and ADHD actually develop from very real neurological conditions. To understand the science behind these conditions, it is first important to understand the role that each part of the brain plays. The parietal part of the brain is in charge of
processing information collected by the senses. The frontal lobe of the brain, meanwhile helps to organize information that comes in. These are the areas that are affected in cases of ADD and ADHD. (Two other sections—the occipital and temporal parts—are unaffected by these conditions.)In cases of ADD, the parietal part of the brain is the only section of the brain that contains abnormal amounts of activity. That means that while the frontal lobe functions normally (thereby integrating information effectively), the individual struggles in processing information that comes into the brain. In other words, they are able to put information to use, but they have difficulty sorting and processing it. Those with ADHD tend to have abnormal activity in both the parietal and frontal areas of the brain. This results in issues with both information collection and integration of material into everyday activity. The deficiency of activity that exists in the frontal lobe is directly related to low levels of two important neurotransmitters—dopamine and norepinephrine. The deficiencies, combined with low levels of serotonin, result in problems with arousal, alertness, and impulsive behavior.
Differences in Behavior
Because the conditions are chemically different, they manifest in a variety of different ways. Still, there also appear to be some similarities in the ultimate appearance of these conditions. On a basic level, easy distraction is the main problem for those with ADD. For those with ADHD, hyperactivity and difficulty in processing information are both major issues. The two conditions appear to intersect when it comes to the appearance of restlessness, but this comes about as the result of very different reasons: For those with ADD,
restlessness comes from anxiety, whereas those with ADHD are restless because of excessive motor activity.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on ll of the latest health and fitness news.