Do you or someone close to you have trouble focusing, often make careless mistakes, or forget things? It could be Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Here, we will discuss ADD and how it can be managed.

What is ADD?

ADD is a neuropsychological disability that affects concentration, organization and planning. ADD stands for “Attention Deficit Disorder” in health care, and it is one of three different forms of ADHD.

It is not entirely clear what the diagnosis is due to, but certain factors, such as heredity, have been seen to affect it. A parent with similar problems is common, but this is not always true.

It has also been seen that people with ADHD often have a lower working memory, which can make it more difficult to organize things. You can miss details and forget things. There may also be biological causes, such as effects on dopamine and norepinephrine, and medication can sometimes help.

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

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Common symptoms of ADD

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

It is good to know that ADD is a disability and diagnosis that comes in different degrees of severity with mild, moderate and severe problems. Often, it is those with severe issues that are most visible in school as they grow up, and many people with moderate or mild issues can be missed as the symptoms are less obvious, but they can still affect life in different ways.

ADD and concentration

ADD can have a significant impact on your ability to concentrate, which in turn can lead to stress and other conditions such as depression and anxiety. However, it is also important to note that people with the diagnosis can often be highly focused and creative when engaged in something that interests them. Therefore, it is essential to identify and work on their strengths, 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 such as disinterest or lack of commitment to a relationship. Understanding how the diagnosis affects an individual can significantly affect 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 ADD.

ADD in children and adults

Some symptoms may be evident for children, while others may go unnoticed. You may notice that your child has difficulty organizing and keeping things in order. They may forget things and need many reminders. There may also be problems in relationships, and it is not uncommon for children to be subjected to bullying. Many experience problems with self-confidence and self-image, as the difficulties can often appear in schoolwork.

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 and lived with undetected or undiagnosed symptoms for a long time. If you had supportive parents, they may have compensated for the symptoms, which may become apparent when you leave home. Or 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 Mental Health Diagnostic Manual) and replace it with ADHD with attention deficit disorder. We know it’s a bit confusing. You can still say ADD in everyday language; other definitions are used mainly in the health sector. If you have questions about it, feel free to ask us.

Next steps for an ADD assessment

Suppose you, or someone you know, are experiencing symptoms that seem to be consistent with ADD. In that case, contacting a therapist or psychologist is essential to get a diagnosis and help with a possible treatment plan. You can read more about the national guidelines for ADHD and ADD here.

Having ADHD with mainly inattention is not something to be ashamed of. It is a part of you that requires understanding and acceptance from yourself and those around you. Through knowledge and support, we can make the complex more manageable.

Do you have questions or concerns? Do not hesitate to contact us or book an appointment with one of our licensed psychologists and doctors.


12 FAQs 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 characterized by difficulties with attention and concentration but without hyperactivity and impulsivity.

How is ADD diagnosed?

A licensed psychologist and doctor usually diagnose a patient by conducting a comprehensive assessment that may include interviews, tests, and questionnaires.

What are the symptoms of ADD?

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

Is there any treatment for ADD?

Treatment options include medication, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), and lifestyle adjustments. The aim is to improve concentration and reduce symptoms. You also have certain rights to support studies.

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 schoolwork?

Because ADD affects concentration and attention, it can be challenging in the school environment. However, exceptional educational support can make a big difference, and as an adult, you are also 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 essential to consult a doctor before making significant changes to your diet.

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

If you suspect ADD, contact us for a consultation. You may be referred to a professional here for further assessment, investigation, and treatment.

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

If you have difficulty managing your work, you can get help with an assessment and interventions to manage organization 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; you must 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 essential step towards getting the help you may need. Dealing with this can seem overwhelming, but with a simple and easy-to-understand guide, we want to make the hard part easier.

Step 1: Recognize the symptoms

Take note of your symptoms. These can include difficulty focusing, forgetting things, and feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks.

Step 2: Consult a healthcare provider

The first and most crucial 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 primary 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 correct 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, organize tasks and manage stress.

Step 7: Follow-up and adaptation

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

Step 8: Support from loved ones

Having a support network is essential. 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 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 we offer introductory sessions with our therapists, where you can be seen over video for 20 or 45 minutes. You can also book a call to get counselling, all to make the hard part easier.

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Written by samantha

Sr. Samantha Pieterse is a registered psychiatric nurse who is deeply committed to mental health and well-being. Samantha brings a unique and valuable perspective to her role as an editor for Lavendla South Africa. She has worked in Government and Private mental healthcare institutions in Gauteng and her expertise ensures that the articles on our website are accurate and accessible. Samantha is dedicated to enhancing mental health awareness and education in South Africa.