Home » ADHD » Blogs » ADHD in Focus » What is the H in ADHD?

What is the H in ADHD?

Can anyone relate?

My diagnoses is ADHD without the Hyperactivity, and I always have wondered what, exactly, is the difference between ADD and ADHD, and how do we know which one fits us? So I did some investigating into the two different yet similar diagnoses, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder, and attempt to clear up any misconceptions here.

ADD was the first term in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), it was in the DSM-IIIR  (the letters represent the ‘volume’s, so IV comes after III, and the R stands for Revised).  They reclassified it in the DSM-IV as ADHD (Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder.  So you may see it either way.

Symptoms include (check out more info on symptoms  in PsychCentral):

  1. Trouble concentrating and staying focused.
  2. Hyperfocused.
  3. Disorganization and forgetfullness.
  4. Impulsivity
  5. Emotional Difficulties
  6. Hyperactivity or restlessness (the H)

I think it is very interesting – #1 and #2 seem to contradict each other, which is why it is often times so difficult for others to understand that it is actually a disorder.  A person with ADHD on the one hand may be able to accomplish a ton when they are hyper-focused, but if they aren’t hyper-focused seem to be an absolute mess.  Friends and family often wonder why can’t they just be focused all the time? 

My guess is because it is the extreme amount of energy it takes for us to be hyperfocused.  It can be very, very draining mentally and physically.  So when we take a break from that mindset it all kind of falls apart.  The constant challenge for us is balance, and trying not to get into that state of exhaustion as it really can deplete us.

It is interesting that I never really thought about the hyperactivity.  But when you explore it a little more you see that it includes fidgeting, trouble sitting still, impatience, craving for excitement, getting bored easily, racing thoughts, tendency to take risks, and feeling of inner restlessness or agitation.  I’ve always thought of the ‘H’ as running around full of nonstop energy, but on further investigation it could manifest itself differently.  Personally, I can relate a lot more to some of the others – impatience, craving for excitement, and getting bored easily.

I wonder how others experience / don’t experience the H?  Please share so we can all learn more!

What is the H in ADHD?

Kathryn Goetzke

I own a company called the Mood-factory (, a company that creates products based on how sensory experiences effect moods. I also run a nonprofit for depressio, iFred (, we are working to change the brand of depression. And yes, I have ADHD, along with PTSD, major depressive disorder, and a host of other challenges, opportunities, and gifts.

2 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Goetzke, K. (2010). What is the H in ADHD?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Feb 2010
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.