What Is ADHD Hyperfocus?
Hyperfocus is a common, but confusing symptom of ADHD. How can someone be distractible, but also concentrate intently on an interesting task? In this video, learn about this complicated feature of the condition.
Powerful, erratic, and somewhat mysterious, hyperfocus is a state familiar to anyone with ADHD who has ever gotten “in the zone” so totally on a project or task that the outside world has ceased to exist.
ADD is commonly associated with distractibility. But, the ability to direct intense focus at one area of interest for an extended period of time isn’t antithetical to the condition. In this video, learn about this critical (and complicated) manifestation of symptoms.
What is ADHD Hyperfocus?
Unpacking a common – but confusing – symptom of ADHD.
What is hyperfocus?
The tendency to concentrate very intently on a particular task.
A child or adult with ADHD may focus so intently that she loses track of the outside world and the passage of time.
What causes hyperfocus?
It may result from abnormally low levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that is thought to create distractibility.
This dopamine deficiency makes it hard to “shift gears” from interesting tasks to boring-but-necessary tasks.
“If they’re doing something they enjoy or find psychologically rewarding, children and adults with ADHD tend to persist in this behavior after others would normally move on to other things.” – Russell A. Barkley, Ph.D.
What triggers hyperfocus?
Children may hyperfocus on playing a video game or watching TV.
Adults may hyperfocus on shopping or surfing the Internet.
Anything that sparks a person’s interest can pull him into a deep concentration that’s difficult to interrupt.
“Children with ADHD often gravitate to what’s entertaining and exciting, and are averse to doing things they don’t want to do. Combine this with poor time management and problems socializing… and the child can end up playing Nintendo alone all weekend long.” – Joseph Biederman, M.D.
Is hyperfocus bad?
There’s nothing inherently harmful about hyperfocus.
In fact, it can be an asset. Some people with ADHD are able to channel their focus productively to achieve great things.
“Many scientists, writers, and artists with ADHD have had very successful careers, in large part because of their ability to focus on what they’re doing for hours on end.” – Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D.