Pseudo versus Real ADD

Just when you were getting comfortable with the thought that you or a loved one might have ADD, here’s something that’s likely to catch you off guard: there is such a thing known as pseudo-ADD, or an Add type illness born out of the society in which we live!


Think about symptoms of ADD and then think about what characteristics seem to be prevalent in our culture?


§ Moving fast as a definition of a “go getter” – a.k.a., the “fast track”

§ The need for high stimulation

§ Speed and creativity

§ Taking chances

§ Ignoring the status quo

§ Bucking authority

§ Doing it your way


If you look at it this way, you could say almost everyone you know has ADD to some extent. Don’t you often juggle several things at once? Do you get overwhelmed at times by all of the stimulation around you? Do you often have trouble paying attention? Can you become “addicted” to a computer game so much so that you can’t tear yourself away? Do you have real ADD or a pseudo-ADD?




Did you know that ADD more frequently occurs in the American population than it is in other countries? Some say we over-diagnose ADD. Other experts seem to think we may lump similar looking syndromes into this one category of ADD. Yet, no matter how you look at it, ADD is more prevalent here.


One hypothesis for the number of diagnoses made in the USA is born out of our genes as well as societal factors. Our founding fathers had to somewhat adventurous and dismissive of authority. Who else would want to strike out and see if they could discover another land? It was a risky venture wasn’t it? Hmmm – did they have ADD?


Think about those who created all of those inventions that we rely upon so heavily today? Think about Albert Einstein or Benjamin Franklin. Both were highly intelligent, curious, and creative. They both craved stimulation and they were willing to take risks. In addition, neither wanted to do things like everyone else. We’ll never know if they had ADD, but it makes you wonder.


So does America have ADD more often than other countries? Or are we over-using the label? It is fair to say that it is easy to use the ADD label when one is trying to describe and categorize another’s behavior.


Before you go and diagnose yourself, or you determine that you’re just another American who is too busy, look at the differences between true ADD and pseudo-ADD.




  1. Everyone gets overwhelmed, impatient, and anxious sometimes.
  2. It is normal to become focused on an activity that causes you to ignore what you should be doing sometimes.
  3. Likewise, it is normal to experience moodiness from time to time sometimes.
  4. After being busy for a long period, it is difficult to relax sometimes.
  5. You will fail to finish obligations/projects when you have too many in front of you sometimes.


You are probably getting what I’m trying to say here. The difference between someone with pseudo-ADD and real ADD has to do with the duration, intensity, and interference capability of the symptoms.


Real ADD



  1. Real ADDers have a long history of symptoms and complaints.
  2. Real ADDers experience symptoms more often than not – in other words, they are rarely symptom free.
  3. Real ADDers experience the symptoms at a much higher intensity than those with pseudo-ADD.
  4. Real ADDers find that their untreated symptoms interfere significantly with their day-to-day lives.




It’s important to refrain from looking at everyone and saying, “You are so _____ – you must have ADD.” While all of us will probably “look” ADD from time to time, it’s not possible that all of us actually have it! When you attempt to diagnose yourself, you are your own worst critic. It’s easy to become overly critical and believe that you must have a problem. This is why a professional opinion is so critical.


If you truly believe that you or your loved one may have ADD, seek help immediately. Be honest and forthcoming about your concerns. If you have ADD, then you can start treating it the minute you get home. And if you are merely a pseudo-ADD, then you can earn how to make the most out of your symptoms so that they help rather than cause you trouble!