ADD Questions Answered

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Peter Jensen, M.D., tells parents how to recognize and cope with their children's attention disorders.


Dr. Peter Jensen, child and adolescent psychologist, answered questions from our community about ADD and ADHD.

Q: What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?

Dr. Jensen: ADD is an older term from previous diagnostic systems. ADHD -- the "H" standing for hyperactivity -- is the more current diagnostic term. It includes children with what was previously called ADD without any hyperactive symptoms, as well as children who have hyperactive symptoms without any inattentive symptoms. Thus, the new diagnostic term ADHD includes three different forms of ADHD: Inattentive only, hyperactive only and inattentive and hyperactive.

Q: I'm a bit confused about the fact that nobody ever talked about ADD 20 or even 10 years ago, and now it's one of the most commonly diagnosed problems for kids. What did people do before this was diagnosed, or is this simply a new problem?

Dr. Jensen: ADHD probably existed many years ago but we rarely made the diagnosis because of lack of information and public acceptance of the disability. Before the diagnosis was made, the same children years ago would have received other labels -- airhead, unmotivated, ne'er-do-well, troublemaker, etc. The diagnosis is a step forward in the right direction and indicates our increased understanding of this problem.

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