• Danielle Ibelema, MD

"I think I have ADHD"


Concentration is a complex subject, and its lack or absence can be incredibly impairing. It’s understandable that so many of you are scavenging the internet seeking answers. You’re looking for that missing puzzle piece – the thing that would allow you to function, feel productive and keep up with it all.


If you were to do that search on google, it would seem that poor concentration is synonymous with ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder). Yet, that assumption is incorrect; not all minds that wander have ADHD. There are many factors that can contribute to an unfocused mind.


What are signs of being unable to focus?



Signs that someone is having a hard time focusing include:



Zoning Out

Memory problems

Difficulty thinking clearly

Forgetfulness

Difficulty tracking or losing things

Difficulty making decisions

Difficulty performing complex tasks

Making mistakes on work

Difficulty tracking time

The ability to only focus for short periods of time

Feeling distracted



Poor focus has frustrating consequences as it can affect different domains of your life. It can cause difficulty with academic, professional, and social functioning. It can even affect one’s decision-making abilities.




Why can't I focus? What's the cause?


This list isn’t exhaustive, as there are too many factors to consider. Yet, here are a few common causes of poor concentration.


Medical Conditions

PTSD

Anxiety Disorders

Major Depressive Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

Dementia

ADHD

Thyroid Disorders

Obstructive Sleep Apnea



Other Factors

Stress

Lack of sleep

Medication Side effects

Substance Use

Trauma



What should I do if I can't focus?


If you’re concerned that you are not able to focus, contact a doctor for help. Patients tend to require a thorough exam, lab work, a review of medications, a review of concurrent symptoms to evaluate focus concerns. Psychological testing is also helpful to assist with the diagnostic process. Psychological testing can especially be helpful as a part of the work up for adults with concerns about ADHD.


In summary, you want to ensure that the work up for a concentration is through and that you don’t jump to the conclusion that one has ADHD.