Do you have trouble focusing, often make careless mistakes, and forget things? Or have you noticed similar traits in someone close to you? The cause could be Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD as it is better known.

What is ADD?

ADD is a neuropsychological disability that affects concentration, organisation and planning. ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder and it is one of three different forms of ADHD.

It is not entirely clear what the cause of of the diagnosis is but certain factors have an affect, such as heredity. It is common to have a parent with similar problems, although it is not always the case.

It has also been seen that people with ADHD can have a lower working memory, which makes it more difficult to organise things, details get missed and things forgotten. There may also be biological causes such as the effects of dopamine and norepinephrine which medication can sometimes help.

It is important to remember that this diagnosis is not a mental illness, but rather a different way how your brain functions. It is possible to get help and support to function better.

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Common symptoms of ADD

  • Difficulty focusing for long periods of time
  • Easily distracted
  • Missing details
  • Problematic perception of time (time optimism and other things that make it difficult to plan)
  • Forgetting and losing things

It is good to know that ADHD is a disability and diagnosis that comes in different degrees of severity with mild, moderate and severe problems. Often, severe cases get noticed while in school, but many with mild to moderate problems are missed as the symptoms are less obvious. However, their lives still get affected is different ways.

ADD and concentration

ADD can have a major impact on your ability to concentrate, which in turn can lead to stress and other conditions such as depression and anxiety. However, people with the diagnosis can often be extremely focused and creative when engaged in something that interests them. Therefore, it is important to identify and work on their strengths but also to manage stress and take breaks when necessary.

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Relationships and ADD

ADD can also affect personal relationships. It is easy to misinterpret invisible symptoms such as distraction and memory difficulties as disinterest or lack of commitment to a relationship. Understanding how the diagnosis affects an individual can make a big difference to how we deal with relationships. Gaining more knowledge about oneself can also increase self-esteem and confidence.

ADD and mental illness

It is not uncommon for people with ADD to also experience periods of depression, anxiety and other issues such as poor self-image. These feelings can be exacerbated by the difficulties that ADD creates, such as problems completing tasks or underperforming at work or school. This can be helped with cognitive behavioural therapy, which is specifically designed for different forms of ADHD.

ADD in children and adults

For children, some symptoms may be obvious while others may go unnoticed. You may notice that your child has difficulty organising and keeping things in order. They may be forgettable and need a lot of reminding. Relationship problems can occur, being subjected to bullying, and issues with self-confidence and self-image. Difficulties often appear through their school work.

For many people, ADD can become more apparent as they get older, when demands and responsibilities increase. Many, especially those with milder symptoms, may have done quite well in life and lived with undetected or undiagnosed symptoms for a long time. If you had supportive parents, they may have compensated for the symptoms, which then become apparent when leaving home. They may have found strategies and solutions to their problems that have worked to some extent. Despite this, it may have been a great effort to cope with school, and in adulthood they may often have stress-related problems at work.

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Is it no longer called ADD?

A few years ago, it was decided to remove ADD from the DSM (the US diagnostic manual) and call it ADHD with attention deficit disorder instead. A bit confusing, we know. You can still say ADD in everyday language as it is mainly in the health sector that other definitions are used. If you have questions about it, feel free to ask us.

ADD assessments

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing symptoms that seem consistent with ADD, it is important to contact a therapist or psychologist for a diagnosis and a treatment plan if necessary. Read more about the national guidelines for ADHD and ADD here.

Having ADHD with mainly inattention is not something to be ashamed of. It requires understanding and acceptance, both from yourself and those around you. Through knowledge and support, we can make the difficult easier.

Do you have questions or concerns? Do not hesitate to contact Lavendla and book an online session with one of our licensed psychologists and therapists.

12 common questions about ADD

What is ADD?

ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder and is a form of ADHD with mainly inattention problems. It is a neuropsychiatric diagnosis characterised by problems with attention and concentration but without hyperactivity and impulsivity.

How is ADD diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made by a licensed psychologist and doctor who together conduct a comprehensive assessment. This may include interviews, tests and questionnaires.

What are the symptoms of ADD?

Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness and difficulty organising daily tasks. Many people also experience difficulties with self-confidence and self-image.

Is there any treatment for ADD?

Yes, treatment options can include medication, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), and lifestyle adjustments. The aim is to improve concentration and reduce symptoms. There are also support studies available.

Is ADD hereditary?

Research shows that ADD has a genetic component. If a parent or sibling has the condition, there is a chance that other family members have it too.

Can adults have ADD?

Yes, although the diagnosis is usually made in childhood, many adults can live with undiagnosed ADD. However, symptoms can vary over a lifetime and become more pronounced with increasing demands.

Does ADD affect school work?

Yes, because ADD affects concentration and attention, it can be a challenge in the school environment. However, special educational support can make a big difference and as an adult, you might also be entitled to extra support and more time for exams, for example.

What role does diet play in ADD?

While there is no scientific evidence that diet can cure ADD, some people report improvements with dietary changes. However, it is important to consult a doctor before making major changes to your diet.

What can I do if I think I or my child has ADD?

If you suspect ADD, contact us for an online consultation. From here you may be referred to another professional for further assessment, investigation, and treatment.

What can I do if I have symptoms of ADHD that affect my work?

If you feel that you are having difficulty managing your work, you can get help with an assessment and interventions to manage organisation and planning. It is also good to think about recovery and stress management.

How can I manage my anxiety and depression?

If you have symptoms of ADHD but also anxiety and depression, you can get treatment for this too. It usually has a good effect.

I have experienced trauma, can I have ADHD?

It is possible to have ADHD and also have problems with trauma, it is important that you get a thorough assessment that gives you guidance on treatment options and possible further investigation.

How does an ADD assessment work?

Suspecting that you have a neuropsychiatric diagnosis can be an emotional experience, but it is also an important step towards getting the help you may need. Dealing with this can seem overwhelming, but with a simple and easy-to-understand guide, we can make the difficult easier.

Step 1: Recognise the symptoms

Take note of the symptoms you are experiencing. These can include difficulty focusing, forgetting things and feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks.

Step 2: Consult a licensed healthcare provider

The first and most important step is to seek professional help. A diagnosis of ADD can only be made by a licensed professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Step 3: Diagnostic tests

After an initial assessment interview, there is an investigation phase. This includes interviews, questionnaires, and possibly cognitive tests.

Step 4: Diagnosis

If you receive a diagnosis of ADHD with mainly inattention, the next step is to discuss treatment options. These can vary from person to person, but usually include a mix of medication and therapy.

Step 5: Medication

For many people, medication is an effective treatment method. As everyone is unique, finding the right dose and type of medication can take time.

Step 6: CBT adapted for ADHD

Cognitive behavioural therapy adapted for ADHD can help you develop skills to manage your symptoms. This includes strategies to improve focus, organise tasks and manage stress.

Step 7: Follow-up and adaptation

Regular follow-ups with your healthcare provider are essential to see how the treatment is working and if any adjustments need to be made.

Step 8: Support from loved ones

Having a support network is important. Talk to family and friends and explain your situation to get the support you need.

Step 9: Continuous evaluation

Life with a neuropsychiatric diagnosis is a learning process. New challenges may arise, and your treatment plan may need to be adjusted as a result.

As starting treatment can often seem daunting or challenging, the best step in the right direction can be just having a conversation with a psychologist or therapist. That’s why book an introductory online session with one of our experienced therapists is a good idea. Simply book a session through the therapy profile pages on the Lavendla website. We help make the difficult easier.

Lavendla – Making the difficult easier

Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.