Let’s be honest, focusing on things like work and school can be hard. It’s quite common for people to get distracted easily or forget what they were doing in the first place. This can affect all facets of your life, both big and small.
While trouble concentrating can be caused by something as simple as stress or lack of sleep, it can also be a symptom of depression or anxiety. Here’s what you need to know about possible reasons why you’re having trouble concentrating, and what you can do to help improve it.
What Are Signs That You’re Having Trouble Concentrating?
Lack of concentration can affect people very differently. You might experience a number of symptoms such as:
- Making careless mistakes
- Difficulty sitting still
- Unable to make choices
- Lack of mental energy
- Losing things
- Forgetting things that just happened
Your lack of focus can also be worsened by several external factors such as your environment, the time of day, and the task at hand. However, you’ll likely notice after a while that you’re experiencing one or more of the symptoms we mentioned.
Top Five Reasons For Concentration Problems
There are times when lack of concentration comes on suddenly. This type of concentration struggle likely doesn’t have a serious underlying condition to address.
Let’s go over the four most likely causes for concentration problems that you might struggle with.
- You’re tired. If you’ve pulled one too many all-nighters and you fall asleep at your desk pretty often, this is probably why you can’t focus. There is a direct correlation between sleep deprivation and impaired cognitive function. This includes your working memory and your cognitive speed. There is even evidence that depriving your brain of enough rest can cause brain cell damage.
- Everyday life is getting in the way. When you have a lot going on at home, it can be difficult to focus on work, and vice versa. Your emotional state is tied to your focus, so when you are excited about something, it causes your adrenaline to increase. Too much of this can cause anxiety and actually decrease your ability to work throughout the day.
- You’ve got too much going on. Even though the multitasking method of productivity isn’t always bad, having too many things on your plate can mess with your ability to focus on just one thing. Multitasking often causes lower quality of work, as well as frustration and high stress levels.
- You don’t like the task that you’re doing. When we want to avoid doing something, we often make excuses about it and try to do anything else instead. This is mostly caused by procrastination and not the inability to concentrate.
- You have an undiagnosed mental health or physical health condition.
Medical Causes of Being Unable To Concentrate
Lack of concentration can also be a sign that there is something more going on, and it may be a symptom of a medical or mental health condition like post-concussion syndrome or anxiety.
Here are some of the disorders and conditions that could be related to lack of focus, though it’s important to note this is not an all-inclusive list.
- ADHD is also known as attention deficit disorder. It often begins in childhood and continues into adulthood. This chronic condition presents in one of two types: some with hyperactivity and impulsivity, and some with inattention and lack of focus.
- A concussion could be the cause for a lack of concentration. This occurs from a mild blow to the head which can cause memory loss, vomiting, and fatigue.
- Dementia is a group of conditions that are characterized by memory loss and judgement which usually occurs in older people.
- Insomnia is characterized as difficulty falling and staying asleep.
- Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by depressed moods and loss of interest in activities.
- Anxiety is an intense and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations — there are many forms of anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and more, each presenting with a different set of signs and symptoms.
Many of these conditions and disorders can be treated using medication and therapeutic techniques. Depression and anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. These disorders are highly treatable, but only about 36.9% of people seek help.
If you feel like you struggle with anxiety or depression and you have trouble concentrating, Brightside is a great place to start.
Brightside is a telehealth company that provides therapy and medication that’s accessible and affordable. We provide a clear path that’s guided by a team of psychiatric providers, therapists, and tech, custom-built for your care.
How To Manage Difficulty With Concentrating
Letting your brain rest and your body repair itself for at least eight hours a night can help. Try creating a bedtime routine and stick to it every day.
You can also take small breaks throughout the day to get your blood flowing if you’re feeling sleepy. Go for a short walk outside for about five minutes when you feel a wave of tiredness coming over you.
You might think that grabbing another cup of coffee will help you focus, but it can actually do the opposite. Caffeine can cause you to feel jittery and restless instead of calm, cool, and collected. Instead, drink a glass of water to keep yourself hydrated.
Lastly, don’t forget about the importance of a well balanced diet. Living off of junk food will only make your focus and energy levels worse in the long run. Your body needs proteins and nutrients to function at a normal level. Try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as lean sources of meat.
If you think your focus issues come from an underlying condition like anxiety or depression, it could be time to talk to a professional. Getting help can be intimidating, but it’s always a step in the right direction. If you aren’t sure how to start, you can get going at Brightside with a free assessment.
When To Seek Professional Help
It’s essential to know when a lack of concentration could be disrupting your life. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you don’t have to do it alone. Professional resources like Brigtside can provide care and are available to help you mitigate the symptoms and reclaim focus.
When anxiety or depression keeps you from sleeping, eating, working, social interactions, running daily errands, or simply focusing during a conversation, you should reach out and seek help. If these feelings last for 3 months or longer, it is more than likely time to speak to a therapist and get treatment.
You should make an appointment to see a doctor if you are experiencing:
- Consistent decreased work performance
- Difficulty sleeping
- Memory loss that’s worse than usual
- Unusual tiredness
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of reasons that you could be experiencing low levels of concentration. The first step for helping yourself is figuring out the root cause and getting treatment,
We all know that there are some days when you can’t seem to get anything done and you don’t know why. We’re only human, so remember to cut yourself some slack once in awhile.
If you’re seeking help for anxiety or depression, Brightside has you covered. Our questionnaire only takes a minute to fill out, and you can start receiving treatment within 48 hours. It’s that easy.