Hyperfocus: Symptoms and Treatment Q&A


"Is hyperfocus a type of ADHD? If so, are any medications designed specifically to treat this type?"

Dr. Larry Silver M.D. is the author of two books about parenting ADHD/LD children.

Hyperfocus describes the state of being so overfocused on something that it is difficult for anyone to "reach" and interact with a person. It usually takes a tap on the shoulder or a wave of the hand in front of the eyes for a hyperfocused person to "snap out of it."

Many people with ADHD tend to hyperfocus from time to time, but it's not a symptom or a subtype of ADHD.

Hyperfocus may be a way to compensate for a distractibility - hyperfocused ADDers are often quite productive - or it could be a symptom of another disorder, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Inattention and distractibility - the brain's inability to filter out unimportant information from internal processes or external stimuli (sounds, sights) - are problems that usually respond to ADHD medications. We have no medication to minimize hyperfocusing.

Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.
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