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In the United States, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is published by the APA (American Psychiatric Association). The book describes the criteria for categorizing mental disorders.

Many doctors, drug companies, health insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, psychiatrists, the legal system, other mental health associated entities, rely at least partially on the DSM for making decisions related to mental disorders.

The DSM was first published in 1952 and is referred to as DSM-I. There was reference to a disorder labeled Minimal Brain Dysfunction. It would now be considered ADHD. The DSM was updated in 1968 and is known as DSM-II.

The DSM-II included a condition that would currently be diagnosed as ADHD. It was called Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood, and characterized by overactivity, restlessness, distractibility, short attention span, occuring in young children.

Although Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood was thought to apply only to children, over the years researchers noticed some of the people diagnosed with the illness still had symptoms when they got older and reached adulthood.

The DSM-III was released in 1980 and first included ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). ADD was associated with distractibility and short attention span. There were 2 types, ADD with hyperactivity and ADD without hyperactivity.

Those who would have previously been diagnosed as suffering from Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood, according to DSM-II standards, would be diagnosed as having ADD with hyperactivity, according to DSM-III standards.

In the 1980s research that confirmed Attention Deficit Disorder was not limited to just children was published. At this time some medical practitioners began to accept the fact and started to diagnose ADD in adolescents and adults, in addition to children.

In 1987 an updated version of DSM-III was released. Known as the DSM-III-R, it first included ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The ADHD description combined attention deficit, impulsivity, hyperactivity.

Those who would have previously been diagnosed as suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder in DSM-III would be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, in DSM-III-R.

In 1994 DSM-IV was released, and in 2000 an update known as DSM-IV-TR was published. The DSM-IV-TR first included the description of ADHD with 3 subtypes, that are still followed at the present time.

People previously diagnosed ADD without hyperactivity, are now classified as having ADHD Inattentive Type. People previously diagnosed ADD with hyperactivity, are now classified as having ADHD Combined Type.

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