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Mind the Gap: Exploring the Distinctions of ADHD

read about adhd

Do you often lose focus, forget things, or get distracted? Maybe you have trouble sitting still, controlling your impulses, or staying calm? If so, you might have ADHD.

As more research is conducted, it's become evident that ADHD is not as clear-cut as the little boy bouncing around in class.

Join us as we take a closer look at this disorder.

ADHD – What is the difference?

ADD stands for attention deficit disorder. However, it is an outdated term to describe a type of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) that does not involve hyperactivity or impulsivity.

ADHD is a brain-based disorder affecting how people think, act, and feel. It can interfere with their ability to focus, plan, follow through, and manage emotions.

There are 3 types of ADHD: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined.

The type of ADHD you have depends on your main symptoms.

ADHD symptoms can vary depending on each person's type, severity, age, and individual factors.

Importantly, these symptoms must be present for at least 6 months, cause significant impairment in daily functioning, and not be better explained by another condition.

What is hyperactive ADHD?

Hyperactive ADHD is what most people think of when they hear ADHD. It means you have symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity but not inattention.

People with hyperactive ADHD may:

  • Fidget, squirm or move around constantly.

  • Talk excessively or interrupt others.

  • Have trouble sitting still or staying in one place.

  • Act without thinking or considering consequences.

  • Be impatient or restless.

  • Have difficulty waiting for their turn or following rules.

  • Blurt out answers or inappropriate comments.

What is inattentive ADHD?

If you have inattentive ADHD (previously called ADD), it means you have symptoms of inattention and distractibility but not hyperactivity or impulsivity.

People with inattentive ADHD may:

  • Have trouble paying attention to details or listening when others speak.

  • Make frequent mistakes in their work or schoolwork.

  • Lose focus easily or get sidetracked by irrelevant things.

  • Have difficulty following instructions or completing tasks.

  • Struggle with organization, time management, and prioritization.

  • Avoid or procrastinate tasks that require mental effort.

  • Lose or forget important items for daily activities.

What is combined ADHD?

Combined ADHD is the most common type. It means you have symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.

People with combined ADHD may:

  • Have all or most of the symptoms of inattentive and hyperactive ADHD.

  • Switch between being unfocused and overfocused.

  • Have trouble regulating their energy level and emotions.

  • Experience mood swings or irritability.

  • Feel bored or restless when not stimulated.

ADHD in adults

ADHD is not just a childhood disorder. Many adults have ADHD and may not even know it.

In fact, a 2021 study showed that globally over 500 million adults struggle with ADHD.

Adults with ADHD may face challenges in various aspects of their lives, such as:

  • Work: They may have trouble meeting deadlines, staying organized, managing multiple projects, or dealing with distractions.

  • Relationships: They may have difficulty communicating, listening, compromising, or resolving conflicts with their partners, family members, friends, or co-workers.

  • Finances: They may struggle with budgeting, paying bills on time, saving money, or avoiding impulsive spending.

  • Health: They may neglect their physical and mental well-being by skipping meals, sleeping poorly, forgetting medications, or avoiding exercise.

Why Does an Accurate Diagnosis Matter?

An accurate diagnosis can help you get the right treatment for your symptoms and challenges.

The different types of ADHD may not respond the same to different treatments.

An accurate diagnosis can also help you better understand your strengths and weaknesses and how to cope effectively.

For example:

  • If you have inattentive ADHD, you may benefit from strategies that help you improve your focus, organization, and time management skills.

  • If you have hyperactive ADHD, you may benefit from strategies that help you channel your energy, reduce impulsivity, and calm your emotions.

How to Treat ADHD Effectively

Unfortunately, there is no cure for ADHD, but effective treatments can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

The most common treatments for ADHD are:


Medication can help ease some of ADHD symptoms by affecting the brain chemicals that regulate attention and behavior.

There are two kinds of medication for ADHD: stimulants and non-stimulants.

Medication can make it easier to focus and socialize, possibly boosting your academic performance, self-esteem, and social skills.

But medication is not a cure-all.

It can have side effects (headaches, mood swings, insomnia, or appetite loss) and might not work for everyone.

Medication also doesn't deal with the root causes of ADHD or teach you how to manage it.

Plus, not all medical professionals are willing or able to prescribe stimulant-based medication.


Therapy can help you cope with the emotional and behavioral challenges of ADHD.

It can also help you develop skills and strategies to overcome difficulties, improve relationships, and achieve goals.

However, seeing results can take time, effort, and commitment, and you'll have to find a therapist specializing in ADHD.

Lifestyle Changes

These changes to your daily habits and routines can help you cope with ADHD symptoms and improve your overall well-being.

Lifestyle changes can include:

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Eating a balanced diet

  • Exercising regularly

  • Practicing mindfulness

How to Get the Right Treatment

ADHD is a complex condition affecting people differently, meaning there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The right treatment for you depends on your specific symptoms, challenges, goals, and preferences. And the best way to get the right treatment for ADHD is to consult a qualified mental health professional.

Headway Telepsychiatry is a leading provider of online mental health services for adults and children, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more.

We are experienced in diagnosing and treating ADHD. We also work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that suits your needs and goals.

Whether you have been diagnosed with ADHD or suspect that you may have it, Headway Telepsychiatry can help you get the right treatment.

Don't let ADHD keep you from living the life you want. Book an appointment today!



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