The story Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
“I don’t have ADHD, I have ADD”
As a neuropsychologist, I have heard this statement many times from patients coming in for an evaluation. There is a lot of confusion out there about the terms “ADHD and “ADD”. The confusion is completely understandable. That’s because the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which lists the criteria for clinicians to make a diagnosis, has changed the name of ADHD several times over the years.
The DSM-II, published in 1968, termed the disorder “Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood”. The name was changed to “ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder) with or without hyperactivity” with the DSM-III in 1980. Now, we are currently on the DSM-5, which uses the term “ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)” regardless if someone has hyperactivity. Within this ADHD diagnosis, there are three subtypes of ADHD in the DSM-5:
- Predominantly inattentive presentation
- Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation
- Combined presentation
As you can see, a person can be diagnosed with ADHD even without having significant symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity. However, regardless of the subtype, the symptoms have to interfere with a person’s functioning, such as with work or school.
Another point of confusion for many is that they mistakenly believe if they have problems with attention, that it must mean they have ADHD. There are many other situations and conditions that can produce inattention. Anxiety, head injuries, sleep apnea, and thyroid dysfunction are just a few examples of conditions that can impact a person’s ability to pay attention and focus. To make a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms must be present during childhood and the symptoms cannot be better explained by another medical or psychiatric condition.
Regardless of why a person is struggling with attention, there are several medication-free options available to help. These include:
- Regular exercise
- Healthy nutrition habits
- Mindfulness meditation
- Good sleep habits
- Behavioral strategies
If you are interested in learning how the Center for NeuroPotential can help with attention problems, call us at 475-221-8142 for a free 15-minute phone consultation.