What does ADHD stand for?

Most people know of ADHD/ADD, and most people even come in contact with others suffering from ADHD from time to time. However, what does ADHD stand for? The acronym holds a great deal of knowledge in itself regarding the characteristics of ADHD, and understanding it is essential to understand the disorder fully.

First we have to clear up a common misconception. These days the acronyms ADD and ADHD are used almost interchangeably, but it is common to not be aware that these both mean the same thing. Well, almost. ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) was the name of what we today call ADHD since 1968. In 1987 the name of the disorder was officially changed to ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, to give attention to the common symptom of hyperactivity. Not all people diagnosed with hyperactivity however, but it is common.

To summarize what ADHD stands for, we can go through the phrase word for word:

  • Attention – This means the predominant symptom of ADHD involves the attentiveness of the affected. People with ADHD have problems keeping their attention to what’s right in front of them, and have a hard time doing one thing for very long. This can lead to problems with learning and work.
  • Deficit – Deficit stands for just what it is. The person suffers from a deficit in attention, and has a harder time staying attentive than others.
  • Hyperactivity – The affected is very active and often fidgets if they have to keep still for longer periods of time. This is usually noticed quite easily by others. As stated earlier, the hyperactivity is not a requirement for a person to be diagnosed with ADHD, but it is common.
  • Disorder – A developmental disorder which occurs in childhood and may continue into adulthood. Mental disorders are defined as a psychological or behavioral pattern which is not normal in the development of an individual.

Knowing what the acronym ADHD stands for can help people get a better overview and understanding of the disorder, and is essential to be able to research further into the characteristics of ADHD.

Tim Fawcett

Meet the author

Dr. Tim Fawcett has a Ph.D in behavioral sciences and works at the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland. He has conducted and co-authored several scientific studies regarding child health, ADHD and bipolar disorder. He also publishes articles for AllAboutADHD.com, to reach a wider audience.