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Are You a Daydreamer or Do You Have ADHD?

When does a behavior become part of a disorder?

I often have people ask me if everyone has ADHD, since we all exhibit symptoms from time to time. Here's what makes ADHD a disorder—it is a cluster of symptoms that are pervasive, impact quality of life, and cause impairment in two or more areas of life. These areas are social, academic/work, and/or home settings. If you just daydream occasionally but are otherwise functioning to your potential, you don't have ADHD.

There's a difference between being a creative thinker who daydreams and meeting the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. When you don't have ADHD, you are able to snap yourself out of a daydream state fairly easily. When you have ADHD, daydreaming is intensified—and it is very difficult for the brain to self-regulate. This is the brain's ability, in part, to move itself from one task to another. When you don't have ADHD, you can start and stop tasks fairly easily. In ADHD, this ability to self-regulate is impaired. People with ADHD may be unaware that they are engaged in daydreaming, and have difficulties shutting it off.

People with ADHD may hyperfocus while they are daydreaming. This is a more intense state than what people without ADHD experience when they are daydreaming. When people with ADHD daydream, you can call their name and they may not hear you. You may need to stand right in front of the person to get their attention. This can cause difficulties in relationships, academics, or at work.

So while we all daydream from time to time, in ADHD it is a hyperfocused behavior that impacts day-to-day functioning.

Copyright 2015 Sarkis Media.

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