May 15, 2021: Do I Have ADD?

May 15, 2021: Do I Have ADD?

Do I have ADD?


Let’s start with a brief history of what we now call Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Hippocrates (460 to 375 BC) made at least one reference to a person who had difficulty keeping their focus and made very quick responses.  Then, in the late 1700s, Sir Alexander Crichton (Scottish physician) described “the disease of attention” and indicated that people with this difficulty can be restless and having trouble sticking with one thing.  Around that time, John Locke also described students who had difficulty with distraction. 

Medical textbooks from the 1800s used terms like ‘nervous child,’ ‘unstable nervous system,’ and ‘simple hyperexcitability.’  In the 1900s, physicians began to take a closer look into kiddos who had difficulty with self-regulation and paying attention.  In the 1920s and 1930s, Dr. Charles Bradley began to use Benzedrine (the first amphetamine) to treat children with headaches and observed that it had a significant impact on their behavior.  Soon, physicians began to prescribe stimulants to treat children who struggled with hyperactivity (and still do today!). 

In the second edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the ‘bible’ of psychological disorders) listed the disorder as “Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood,” which was believed to be outgrown by adolescence.  In 1980, the DSM-III came out and named it Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) with or without hyperactivity.  BUT by 1987, the diagnosis was changed to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and ADD was taken OUT of the diagnostic manual.  The 1994 revision, the DSM-IV, further classified the disorder to ADHD Inattentive Type, Hyperactive/Impulsive Type, and Combined Type.  The most recent revision of the DSM (DSM-V), which came out in 2013, continued with this classification system.

So.  Do you have ADD?  No, because it hasn’t technically been a diagnosis since the 1980s.  BUT if you struggle with attention, focus, executive functioning, etc.- please reach out because there are a lot of things that you can do to improve your functioning (even if you’re an adult!).

History of ADHD taken from CHADD

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

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