Written by Tara Boustany on
September 15, 2021
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Tara Boustany on:

Hyperfocus ADHD is a form of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It causes ADHD individuals to hyperfocus on specific tasks. It’s a common misconception that people with ADHD can’t focus.

In reality, hyperfocus is a frequent symptom of ADHD. It has become increasingly recognized as ADHD research advances.

Hyperfocus is often seen in those who have high levels of creativity and intelligence. They can get so absorbed in what they’re doing that they lose track of mundane tasks or thoughts.

We’ll talk about why hyperfocus happens, the best strategies for coping with it, and how we can assist family and friends comprehend its power.

What is Hyperfocus ADHD?

Hyperfocus Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can be either good or bad, depending on the task at hand. Hyperfocusing in adults can cause problems, but for children, it may be beneficial.

Hyperfocusing symptoms are more common in adults with ADHD than they are in children with ADHD. The upside of Hyperfocus ADHD is that it makes some things easier while making others harder.

Many of the findings about ADHD are based on expert judgment or anecdotal evidence from ADHD individuals. Because there is currently little scientific evidence to support it, hyperfocus is an issue of debate. It is also not felt by all those who have ADHD.

According to a new 2019 research from the University of Florida and Michigan State University, there may be some new information. This study could do away with any anecdotal evidence about a connection between ADHD and hyperfocus.

To assess ADHD symptoms, participants completed highly validated questionnaires. This included the Conners’ Adult ADHD Rating Scale. People who have more symptoms of ADHD reported that they also had more hyperfocus. They had higher levels of this in school, at their hobbies, and during screen time too.

People also said that they were very focused when they were doing real things, like reading a book or doing homework. This research is important to people with ADHD. It is the first time scientists have done a study that shows what hyperfocus means in adults with high ADHD symptoms.

Moreover, hyperfocus is common in adults with ADHD. This symptom can be linked to the need to research it as a possible aspect of ADHD.

What does hyper-focusing look like?

Hyperfocus is a state of mind in which a person has trouble controlling their attention away from things that fascinate them. Hyperfocus can be used in a positive way, but it can also cause problems.

Hyperfocusing will only get more difficult as people age because they learn to suppress it better. Hyperfocus is a common symptom of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but there are other terms for it as well. This includes single-mindedness and hyper-concentration.

Hyperfocus ADHD and autism spectrum disorders are neurodevelopmental disorders associated with impairments. Impairments in social development, language, and repetitive, circumscribed behaviors/interests.

Hyperfocus ADHD Adults

What does hyperfocus ADHD look like with adults? Hyperfocus ADHD adults can be difficult to manage as they are more likely to zone out or lose track of time.

Hyperfocusing on a task is intentional and wanted, but can result in mental blocks as well as a lack of cognitive flexibility. Hyperfocus behavior may not appear until well into adulthood. It is something that people can learn to control as they age.

Hyperfocus Symptoms

Hyperfocus ADHD symptoms can vary. Hyperfocusing on a task is intentional and wanted. Adult ADHD with hyperfocus can be more difficult to manage than children. They are more likely to zone out or lose track of time.

The symptoms of hyperfocus attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can vary. The following are a few to look for:

  • Hyperfocusing on a task while blocking out other important tasks.
  • Escapist infatuation with an activity for at least 6 months.
  • Ongoing obsession; cannot seem to get enough.
  • Intense focus. Difficulty shifting attention away from selected tasks.
  • Intense concentration at the exclusion of other tasks or priorities.
  • Problems with staying on mundane tasks.
  • Less concern for consequences if you don’t stay on task.
  • Low frustration tolerance and high impulsivity
  • Difficulty recognizing external cues, such as fatigue or boredom.
  • Self explanatory speech/denial that there’s a problem at all.

How long does hyperfocus last?

Hyperfocus can last anywhere from a few minutes to more than 6 hours. Hyperfocus symptoms are more common with adult ADHD than in children.

As people get older, hyperfocusing on a task gets increasingly challenging. People learn to hide their focus better as they grow older and it becomes more difficult. Hyperfocusing is deliberate and desired. It may result in mental blocking and cognitive flexibility issues.

Children with Hyperfocus have better outcomes than adults. They are unable to compensate for the behavior using other methods, such as tooth brushing or cleaning the kitchen counter. This reaction serves as a de facto “time out” or break, allowing them to get away from their single attention.

What causes the ADHD brain to hyperfocus?

Hyperfocus is associated with abnormally low dopamine levels. These dopamine levels are particularly high in the frontal lobes of the brain.

This dopamine deficiency makes it hard for people to do boring, uninteresting things. Hyperfocus is most likely to occur when the activity in question has an emotional component. Especially if it’s pleasurable or exciting.

Hyperfocusing can be a problem when you’re studying for exams, but there are ways to break out of this state.

People with ADHD have a hard time changing from one thing to the next. They will keep doing things even when other people stop. They are drawn to activities that give fast feedback in their brains.

Hyperfocusing is different from ADHD. Hyperfocusing includes other brain functions outside of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Hyperfocus is an intense tunnel-vision or “in the zone” feeling.

Other stimuli are blocked out leaving the individual with the ability to concentrate on crafting one specific skill, or task. Hyperactivity can be accompanied by hyperfocusing but not always.

Some kids with ADHD hyperfocus on purpose to avoid getting distracted. Other kids do it unconsciously when they are doing something they enjoy. It is hard to notice that you are focusing so much.

Is ADHD Hyperfocus Bad?

There is nothing wrong with hyperfocus. Having this condition can lower self-esteem in some people. Sometimes it can be helpful, like when someone with ADHD or ADD does something productive. It can also be helpful to reward yourself for doing something that was hard but important.

Negative symptoms of hyperfocusing can be severe. The sufferer will not notice anything beyond his or her current focus. This can be detrimental. You might not do well in school and you won’t be productive at work.

If you pay attention to one thing too much, it can make it hard on your friends and family as well as on the person that is getting your attention.

Children with ADHD are drawn to things that they find entertaining and exciting. They may not want to do tasks that they don’t really care about. ADHD makes it hard to think about time management.

It also is hard to talk with people. This makes it easy for a child with ADHD to spend their weekend playing video games alone.

Adults with ADHD frequently forget when they are supposed to perform tasks. They can become so absorbed in something that they lose track of time. If there’s a fire or other significant emergency in the area, they may not notice it.

The Upside of ADHD Hyperfocus

Hyperfocusing on a task helps people engage in longer tasks that would require intense concentration. When you are focusing on one thing, it helps your brain to think better. It also reduces boredom.

You can do this for tasks you have to do over and over again like chores at home, or working out at the gym. Focusing helps make decisions too.

Increased cognition and creativity are two of the advantages of being hyperfocused. It restricts competing emotions, ideas, urges that compete for attention in people with ADHD.

It also causes dopamine to be produced in the frontal lobe. This has an impact on cognitive function and rational thinking. The skills you learn when you are hyperfocused stay with you.

Hyperfocused children have better grades than other kids in school and they get punished less. Hyperfocus can be a positive coping skill for ADHD children.

When it comes to parenting children with ADHD, hyperfocusing should not be used as a form of criticism. Hyperfocus should not be labeled as “bad” or “good” because it assists with complex cognitive tasks

Hyperfocus In Children: Can It Be Trained?

Hyperfocus, when trained properly over time, becomes beneficial. Understanding hyper-arousal symptoms is critical in managing ADHD. We can learn what sets the brain into overdrive. Then create habits that control impulses and tame distractibility. If you are hyperfocusing, you need to take deep breaths. This will relax your body. You can then focus on one thing.

Parents or teachers should first try to limit the amount of time a child with ADHD spends in a favorite pastime if he or she gets lost in it.

Whether or not a child is taking ADHD medication, video games will always be more enticing than studying math problems. As a result, the youngster should be permitted to play it in doses only. Never at the expense of an entire day.

Your child may be hyperfocusing on a particular pastime. You can restrict how much time he spends on it, and stick to a schedule. It can also be useful to set an agreement with your child ahead of time regarding when the activity like a video game is permitted.

It’s critical to establish a method for redirecting their attention when it wanders. Allow yourself some leeway at the conclusion of an activity, if feasible, and wait for a natural pause. The end of a television program is one example.

It is not enough to tell the child when to stop. Parents need to do something in order for the child to notice them. This can be tapping on their shoulder, waving in front of their face, or standing in front of the TV or computer screen. The child might not realize that you are trying to get her attention unless you do this.

You can’t be angry with children with hyperfocus. They are not being disobedient. It’s just that their brains are not understanding what you are telling them.

Make sure to speak calmly when you interrupt them. Let them know why they should stop doing whatever it is they were doing so that their brain can understand what you’re saying better.

To assist with this process, educate your youngster about the workings of his or her brain. It’s critical for children to understand why it’s difficult for them to quit something they’re really interested in.

The child also needs to understand that teachers and parents may need to step in from time to time in order to prevent a behavior.

Parents must learn how hyperfocuses work and what triggers them if they’re going to train their children out of this behavior pattern. To start training for your child, first figure out when they are hyperactive.

For example, does he go into deep focus mode right after school or just during certain activities like playing a video game?

How to break yourself out of ADHD hyperfocus?

The best approach to handle hyperfocus is not to fight it but to embrace it. Choose hobbies that are interesting to you and will help you pay attention to them.

You can use hyperfocus to your advantage by making use of it to accomplish tasks, finish work and even deal with your ADHD. Hyperfocus can be used as a self-medication for those suffering from low energy levels or lack of motivation.

Kids who are hyperfocusing on video games or on homework often need short breaks to do something fun, like color, watch TV, do some jumping jacks.

A break is like a chance for the brain to rest and process information too! Remember that time outs sometimes include time outs from technology.

There are a few ways that people can break themselves out of Hyperfocus ADHD, but they may depend on what caused Hyperfocus ADHD in the first place.

Some options are to use external cues to break your focus. Hyperfocus ADHD can be broken when you are in an environment that is not stimulating or difficult for you.

For example, if you are in the shower, on a walk, or taking care of something physical like playing an instrument or doing exercise. Hyperfocus ADHD may also be broken by using cues that stimulate your vision or hearing.

For example, you could chew gum, drink coffee or tea, or call friends and family. You can also play games, watch TV. Hyperfocus ADHD can take longer than typical attention span to break due to deep intense focus.

Hyperfocus ADHD may also be broken by taking deep breaths which relaxes your body and allows for more focus on specific tasks.

Hyperfocus ADHD is a deep intense focus on one task, and can be broken by using multiple stimuli to create new important tasks.

In order to break Hyperfocus ADHD, you must remove yourself from the source of your problem. Physical removal may be required in some cases.

Does ADHD medication help with hyperfocus?

There are currently no medications developed specifically to treat hyperfocusing in adults. This can cause trouble controlling symptoms. Many ADHD medications do improve focus and lower distraction.

For this reason, the best way to fight hyperfocus is by taking an ADD medication that reduces impulsivity so you won’t have such strong urges. If you use medicine to treat Hyperactivity, you may expect fewer occurrences of Hyperfocus.

If Hyperfocus occurs anyways don’t try forcing yourself out of it because you’ll just stress yourself out more which isn’t good.

Many cases of hyperfocus are caused by some form of mental health condition, drug side effects, or hormone fluctuations in the body. This is why it’s critical to treat these underlying issues with an expert first so that Hyperfocus can be controlled successfully.

Stimulant medication can help people with ADHD focus better, but it won’t fix the problem. Stimulants boost the attractiveness of uninteresting activities.

People with ADHD need help from their friends, family members, and coworkers. They can focus on one thing for a long time. If you help them, they will be able to stop focusing so much on those things.

Some people with ADHD use intentional hyperfocusing as a means of shutting out unwanted sights and noises. Distractibility, not surprisingly, is the cause of this hyperfocus.

Medication reduces distractibility, which results in a reduction in the incidence of hyperfocusing. Before taking any type of medication always ask your doctor to first provide medical advice about your condition.

The Bottom Line

Hyperfocus ADHD is a form of Attention Deficit Disorder, and it affects roughly 10% of the population. The symptoms of this condition can be good or bad, depending upon how it affects you.

If you think that you or your child might have hyperfocused attention-deficit disorder but aren’t sure about what to do next, we want to help!

Our team is here to provide medical advice for this condition. Contact us today for a free consultation so we can work with you to find the best treatment options possible for Hyperfocus ADHD.

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