What are the definitions of ADD and ADHD?
Although definitions of ADD and ADHD may vary, there is consistency in the identified common symptoms. Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity are the traits that are found in all descriptions of ADD and ADHD.
The recently published Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association amended the information on ADHD to reflect the recent research and understanding of ADD and ADHD. Although the 18 defined symptoms remained divided into two categories of Inattention and Hyperactivity/Impulsivity, the criterion has been changed to address the combined type and adult diagnosis. The APA has now placed ADHD in the chapter of neurodevelopmental disorders to reflect the current understanding of the etiology of ADHD.
In 1994, Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey, offered a user-friendly definition of ADD and ADHD in their book Answers to Distraction. The authors speak with an authenticity about ADHD since both are psychiatrists who have treated a multitude of ADHD patients and both have attention deficit disorder.
“ADD is a neurological syndrome that is usually genetically transmitted. It is characterized by distractibility, impulsivity, and restlessness. In ADD these symptoms are present from childhood on, and with a much greater intensity than in the average person so that they interfere with everyday functioning.”
When addressing a question concerning a single core trait that defines ADD/ADHD best, they replied, “It is a relative lack of inhibition.”
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