ADHD is normally associated with difficulty maintaining attention, restless behavior, and impulsivity. That is why it might be hard for people to imagine patients with ADHD also having hyperfocus.
Yet hyperfocus is present in children and adults with this disorder, it is, however, not considered a subtype or criteria to diagnose ADHD.
This article examines what hyperfocus is, ADHD and the hyperfocus relationship, the problems it can cause, and some available ways to manage it.
ADHD cannot be cured but can be effectively managed. Consult with a doctor to know more.
What Is Hyperfocus?
ADHD hyperfocus refers to a state of being intensely absorbed in an activity or task for an extended period that the individual blocks out the rest of the world. It could be any activity, but primarily it is one the individual finds great pleasure in doing. For children, hyper focus examples could be watching their movies or TV shows; for adults, it could be shopping, a hobby, or even scrolling on social media.
Unless someone or something interrupts this intense fixation, hours will pass by with the person not paying notice or switching to other tasks or aspects of their lives that require their attention.
How to Manage Hyperfocus?
While there is no problem with hyperfocus, and in some ways, it can be beneficial (especially if the activity of interest is part of your study/career), it can become harmful too. Just like a distraction, hyperfocus in ADHD patients is a symptom of a dysregulated attention system. The individuals cannot easily shift focus from one activity to the other. As such, hyperfocus can negatively affect relationships, work productivity, eating routines, and sleep patterns, among other issues.
Tips on How to Stop Hyperfocus Include:
1. Identify and investigate hyperfocus patterns
The first step is to identify the situation, motivation, and environment in which the hyperfocus episode happens. This step includes understanding how hyperfocus looks to a patient, its duration, if it impacts their self-care, and how they respond to interruptions. This tip will help patients improve their metacognition capacity so they can know when hyperfocus is taking over and, as a result, have an effective plan to exit an episode.
2. Identify the root causes of your hyperfocus
At times one could hyper focus over something or activity not because they like it but for other underlying issues. It could be a desire for information, anxiety over an upcoming deadline or event, or depression. Addressing root causes will help resolve hyper-focusing. It may also help one recognize that the activity is not everything and can be handled in bits.
Get professional help in identifying the causes and triggers of ADHD symptoms.
3. Plan and prioritize work
Patients should plan their week and days, listing the tasks in the order of urgency and importance, and then split the tasks into time blocks. Each block should have fewer tasks to allow them to finish fast so they can reach their goals and be motivated by the accomplishment. It will also help them avoid starting with the activities that are likely to trigger hyperfocus at the expense of others or leave them for sleep time.
4. Work on your time management (alarms and alerts)
People prone to hyperfocus must maintain their awareness of time. They can do this by setting up alerts at intervals across the day. They can use various work management tools, including banners and notes. The work schedule should also have structured breaks. All these will help them keep track and avoid the negative effects of hyperfocus.
5. Have an accountability person
Managing hyperfocus alone is almost impossible, especially at the start. People suffering from it should consider asking friends, family members, or coworkers to help by checking on them periodically. The individuals will also hold the patients accountable for completing important work first.
6. Practice mindfulness techniques
The idea of mindfulness is to enable patients to focus on the present and be aware of their thoughts and feelings. It helps build concentration and focus even in activities they do not want to do but are necessary. It is calming and relaxing, relieving any underlying anxiety.
Ask our doctors about self-help techniques that will boost the efficacy of your ADHD treatment.
When to Seek Treatment
It is best to seek a doctor when hyperfocus affects your life. For adults, when those around them point out that they are focusing on one thing at the expense of other areas of their lives, it would be a great time to see a therapist.
To ease this symptom, cognitive-behavioral therapy can be used. It will help individuals identify and change their negative thought patterns and behaviors and develop new effective ones. It also helps to manage time better, improve organizational skills, and more. As a result, daily functioning improves due to reduced intensity of hyper fixation.
Further, it will be prudent to seek treatment if someone traces their failings in other aspects of their lives to their hyperfocus. Finally, one should look for treatment if hyper-focusing happens along with other ADHD symptoms like inattention to other tasks, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These can manifest as:
- Doing or saying things without thinking
- Difficulty in concentration
- Being easily distracted
- Being talkative and interrupting people as they speak
- Fidgeting a lot and being restless
- Forgetting or missing details
- Difficulty in listening during a conversation
- Poor organization skills.
Hyperfocus is often not given the same importance as other symptoms of ADHD, and clinically, it is not considered when making a diagnosis. The fact that it can help individuals succeed or involves paying lots of attention can easily make people doubt the presence of ADHD. However, patients and parents of children exhibiting the behavior must watch out and understand how their ADHD hyper-focusing happens. Contact us today to get ADHD treatment online from a mental health expert.
It is also important to get a medical expert’s opinion. Even if the doctors do not give an ADHD diagnosis, they can help the patient uncover the cause of the condition and teach them coping strategies. Treatment ranges from a mix of therapy, changes in diet and lifestyle, and medication, all of which prove effective in managing the condition.