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Depression

Hyperfixation Definition | Underlying Causes of Hyperfixation

What Is The Definition of Hyperfixation?

What Is The Definition of Hyperfixation?

Hyperfixation occurs when you become entirely engaged in something to the point where it becomes all-consuming and interferes with your daily functioning. It becomes difficult to focus on anything other than the object of your obsession.

You might get obsessed with an activity, interest, person, or location. The duration of hyperfixation might also differ. Some people will hyperfocus on one item for months at a time, while others will only hyperfocus for a few days. You could also develop an interest rapidly and then abandon it just as soon.

You’ve probably heard the term “hyperfocus.” Some experts confuse it with hyperfixation, while others use it to denote a state of intense concentration on a single task. According to this description, hyperfocus terminates after the work is completed, as opposed to hyperfixation, which lasts longer.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperfixation?

If you have hyperfixation, you might:

  • Lose track of time or have the impression that time is flying by The individual is so concentrated on one subject that they lose sight of time. They have no notion whether they were ‘gone’ for an hour or 12 hours when they awaken from their condition of hyperfixation.
  • Tune out anything else going on around you: When you speak to someone who is hyperfocused, they will frequently disregard you. It’s not that they’re being impolite; it’s just that they can’t hear you. 
  • Forget to do basic things like eat or sleep: The individual is so preoccupied with one subject that they neglect to eat. When they come out of their trance, they may notice that they are famished.
  • Feeling powerless to control your activities due to your passion
  • Reduce your self-awareness and social awareness: People arrive and go; the fragrance of food wafts from the kitchen; you inviting them to eat; you tell them it’s time to go to bed; the kids yell for attention; you tell them you need to chat… They aren’t aware of any of these things since their solitary focus drowns out everything else.

What Problems Can Hyperfixation Cause?

What Problems Can Hyperfixation Cause?
What Problems Can Hyperfixation Cause?

Hyperfixation may have severe implications for both the person and others around them.

The disadvantages for the hyperfocused individual might include:

  • Having forgotten to eat
  • Ignoring family and loved ones by failing to sleep
  • Other obligations in their lives are being neglected.
  • Concentrating solely on ‘entertaining’ but not helpful or productive activities (wasting time)

Hyperfixation can be a coping method for certain people. You may become fixated on something that makes you feel calmer or more joyful. In these situations, hyperfixation might be a useful distraction from the things that are bothering you. However, this may be dangerous when it becomes avoidance – when you continually turn to the object of your hyperfixation rather than addressing the challenges you’re dealing with. At times, the object of your obsession might be destructive in and of itself. You may become fixated on an unpleasant memory or an action that has a bad impact on you. 

Hyperfixation might also impair your regular functioning. It’s time to take a step back if you’re not eating, sleeping, keeping your hygiene, or cultivating your relationships because you’re too concentrated on your passion. The following are some of the disadvantages for a hyperfocused person’s family and loved ones:

  • Feeling neglected and rejected because they just do not listen
  • Feeling irritated that they are spending their time on trivial matters
  • Feeling as though there is no give and take in the relationship – their fixation constantly takes precedence.

What Mental Health Conditions Are Related To Hyperfixation?

Although hyperfixation is most commonly linked with ADHD, it can also be a sign of a variety of other mental health problems, including:

Spectrum diseases on the autism spectrum (ASD)

Hyperfixation and autism can be linked, much like ADHD.  Many experts have dealt with autistic persons who have gotten linked to other people because they believe something is lacking in their life.

When there is an acknowledgment that another person is interested in them and desires a connection with them, they might become hyperfixated on that person or that relationship in general.

OCD is an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder comprises unpleasant thoughts or anxieties about a wide range of topics, including germs, injury, order, superstitions, and losing loved ones. Teens suffering from hyperfixation and OCD may hyperfocus in order to shut out the turmoil and prevent these ideas from dominating their heads.

Depression

Depression

Hyperfocus can be a coping method for kids suffering from depression. Someone suffering from depression and hyperfixation may hyperfocus on anything that distracts them from the misery or anguish they are feeling in their daily lives.

Anxiety problems

The explanation for hyperfixation and anxiety is similar to that of depression. Teens can distract themselves from their worries by diverting their focus away from them. It’s a momentary cure that allows people to escape their problems and fears.

How Can I Manage My Hyperfixation?

No, you do not have to abandon all of your hobbies. Just find a method to balance them with your other wants and duties. Here are a few pointers to get you started.

Establish a time restriction

How Can I Manage My Hyperfixation?

When you spend time on your hyperfixation, consider how much time you want to allow yourself at the outset. Set a timer for an hour or two and commit to it. To avoid going over your time restriction, try scheduling something directly after it. Time-sensitive items, such as theater tickets or meal reservations, perform particularly effectively.

Determine when to begin

If you have difficulties stopping yourself after you get started, consider regulating when you begin. Avoid commencing any activity around your bedtime or before a deadline. Set aside time for your interests once you’ve completed your tasks as a reward.

Make a new activity a priority

It’s natural to lean toward what you already know and love because it’s simpler. Make an attempt to do something different. Choose a new pastime or activity to attempt, acquire any necessary supplies, and store them somewhere you can quickly reach the next time you’re bored.

Maintain contact with others

Enlist the assistance of your friends and family to help you control your hyperfixation. Request that they phone you or come over at a specific time to ensure that you are not becoming too absorbed in your hobbies. You can also request that they provide you with a physical indication, such as turning off your screen or standing in front of you.

Address the underlying cause

Perhaps you suffer from anxiety and are acutely self-aware, and hyperfixating allows you to focus on the task rather than yourself. Perhaps you’ve been feeling socially alienated, and watching a program helps you feel more connected to the characters. Take some time to figure out why you could be hyperfixating, and then take action to address the underlying issue.

What Are The Underlying Causes of Hyperfixation?

What Are The Underlying Causes of Hyperfixation?

Unfortunately, there is no clear explanation for why people hyperfocus in unproductive ways.

People with ADD/ADHD and ASD (Asperger’s – Autism Spectrum Disorder) are more prone to hyperfixate than others, although even within those categories, the particular causes for a single individual’s hyperfixation vary greatly.

Add to those persons who hyperfocus but do not have one of the neurodiverse diagnoses, and the list of potential underlying reasons grows quite extensive.

But that’s OK. It merely takes a professional practitioner’s diligent detective work to figure out what’s going on.

However, these are some of the most prevalent underlying reasons for hyperfixation that we’ve noticed in our customers over the years.

Hyposensitivity to light

Some individuals are more sensitive to visual cues than others. Strong visual stimuli are required for anything to capture and hold their attention. As a result, they seek out extreme visual stimulation. Is anyone interested in video games or TikTok? They are not overwhelmed by these powerful visual stimuli, but rather seek them out. 

Hypersensitivity to sound

Some people are extremely sensitive to sound. The sound of someone eating or their peers’ pencils writing on paper might drive them insane. So, in order to filter out everything else, they devote their full attention to only one subject. It’s a comfort to not have all those noises bombarding their ears and minds for a bit.

Anxiety

People who have a lot of anxiety might use hyperfixation to ‘forget themselves’ – and cease experiencing their anxiety – for a while by thoroughly immersing themselves in anything.

There is another side to worry and hyperfixation. Children going through growth spurts and hormonal fluctuations, as well as many neurodiverse adults, frequently have a poor sense of proprioception (being aware of and feeling their own bodies), which generates persistent worry. This is because they have no idea where their limbs are or what is going on in their body. Being hyper-focused on frantic activities or repetitive movements (stimming) might provide them with a sense of comfort since the activities help them to better feel their body and so reduce tension.

Finding it difficult to switch concentration

Transitioning from one activity to another is difficult for many persons on the Autism Spectrum. So people become obsessed with one item in order to avoid the tension of transitioning from one thing to another. There’s a double whammy if that activity involves a video game or social networking. Those platforms are expressly built to immerse and keep people captivated. Unfortunately, they are really good at it.

Hypervigilant

Some people are hypervigilant, always concerned about what may happen next. They may frequently stand to the side and observe what is going on around them in order to avoid unwanted shocks. But if they find something to immerse themselves in on their smartphone or computer, it really provides them a reprieve since they can finally stop thinking about what’s going on around them.

Finding it difficult to arrange activities (praxis)

It might be difficult for some people to organize and carry out activities. They just cannot figure out how to begin a new task. So it’s simpler for them to hyperfocus on one item than to cope with the burden of deciding what to do next and preparing for the initial step.

Vision problems

Vision problems
Vision problems

Some people have visual problems that make it simpler for them to perceive and process information close up rather than farther out. So staring at their phone over supper is less taxing on their eyes and brains than looking up to speak with the rest of the family.

This is just a brief summary of some of the most prevalent underlying conditions that can lead to hyperfixation that we’ve observed. The number of potential reasons is nearly limitless.

To find out what’s truly going on with your child, an in-depth examination of their neurological development, strengths and limitations, and any environmental variables that are causing them to hyperfixate are required.

Is Hyperfixating Helpful?

While hyperfixation has several downsides, when used correctly, it may be an important success tactic.

Benefits of applying hyperfixation to something beneficial and productive include:

  • Almost limitless energy
  • The capacity to practice and improve on a regular basis
  • A level of concentration that allows them to surpass practically everyone else
  • The capacity to persevere and finally triumph in the face of apparently insurmountable obstacles

Some famous people who seem to have the ability to hyperfocus include:

  • Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was obsessively focused on creating great user experiences (and also on the Autism spectrum)
  • Simone Biles, considered to be the most successful gymnast of all time (who also has ADHD)
  • Elon Musk, who’s obsessively focused on creating technological innovations to solve difficult and important problems (and is also on the Autism spectrum)
  • Albert Einstein, you know, he invented General Relativity and changed our view of the universe forever (and was also dyslexic)
  • Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, was obsessively focused on building computer technology and is now equally obsessively focused on his philanthropic endeavors. (See the documentary “Inside Bill’s Brain.”)

The list doesn’t end. Simply looking at anyone who is a world-class leader in their area will reveal that they spend most of their time hyperfocused on their one preoccupation in life.

What Is The Difference Between Hyperfixation And Addiction?

What Is The Difference Between Hyperfixation And Addiction?

Addiction is a kind of reliance, not an escape. It is an addiction if you cannot go without it for even small periods of time, whether pharmaceutical or experiential. Lack of access to a video game, for example, may create anguish, anxiety, aggressiveness, and frequent physical symptoms in someone who is addicted to it.

Hyperfixation, on the other hand, is characterized by moments of utter disinterest in the event, book, game, or whatever someone was concentrated on. The interest might be triggered tomorrow or next month, but there will be no withdrawal. If you have a tendency to get hyperfocused on things, it may be more probable on days when you are under intense stress or your anxiety symptoms are at their greatest. However, frequent periods of hyperfixation might become troublesome if they continue.

The desire to use drugs or alcohol is constantly there in people who have an addiction. If you’re unsure if you’re addicted or obsessed, consider the following questions:

  • Do you get drowsy, melancholy, or exhausted when your favorite pastime is unavailable?
  • Do you only feel good (happy, peppy, and energetic) when you’re engaged in your experience?
  • Do you become irritated or agitated when you can’t do your favorite distraction?
  • Are you preoccupied with thoughts about and desires for your activity while you are not engaged in it?
  • Is your activity interfering with your responsibilities, relationships, family obligations, or health/fitness/wellness?

Final Words

In short, hyperfixation is not that bad. It is a natural part of the learning process, and it is important to recognize and embrace it as a way to deeply engage with a subject and learn as much as possible about it. While it is important to try and maintain a balance in your interests and activities, it is also important to allow yourself the time and space to fully explore and become passionate about a particular subject. Remember to take breaks and make time for other activities, but also don’t be afraid to fully immerse yourself in something that interests you. Embrace your hyperfixations and let them take you on new and exciting learning journeys.

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