Hyperfixation in ADHD: What You Need to Know

June 29, 2021
Hyperfixation: A Unique Aspect of Mental Illness
ADHD Disorder
Hyperfixation in ADHD: What You Need to Know

Hyperfixation is a unique aspect of mental illness that is evident in multiple mental health problems. There are countless Americans who are unknowingly suffering from it.

There is a close link between hyperfixation and ADHD. People with hyperfixation would describe their experiences as similar to those that people with ADHD go through. This article looks into hyperfixation and what it’s like to be a victim of this mental condition.

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What Is Hyperfixation?

Most people with hyperfixation don’t know about it. It is an exaggerated and intense affection towards something or someone. This condition ends up taking a considerable amount of your time and thoughts. The person suffering from it can over-focus on multiple things.

Hyperfixation is usually mistaken for an individual’s particular interest. However, the reality is that hyperfixation is prevalent among people with ADHD and other mental illnesses. We shall look at some examples of hyperfixation later in this guide.

Hyperfixation Defined

Hyperfixation is a condition whereby an individual is utterly obsessed with one hobby or subject. This definition is derived from the Urban Dictionary. Although ADHD is closely related to hyperfixation, individuals suffering from autism, anxiety, depression, and other neuro-typical conditions are also more likely to suffer from this kind of obsession.

Hyperfixation is often considered to be a sign of mental illness. This condition develops out of a person’s avoidance of negative emotions and thought patterns that result from several mental disorders.

Therefore, hyperfixation isn’t a separate mental illness but rather a result of someone developing an avoidance stimulus to their negative emotions and thoughts due to mental health conditions. Most people use it to divert their negative signs and symptoms into positivity.


Most people with ADHD started hyperfixating at a young age, particularly in their teenage years. The worst thing is that people with this symptom can’t recognize they require help to overcome it. Below are examples of hyperfixation to help you get a clear understanding.

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Common Types of Hyperfixation

Hyperfixation isn’t all about getting obsessed with a few specific things. Instead, most people hyperfixate on many things. The things that people choose to focus on depend on the person. Here are some examples.

Hyperfixation on a Person

Hyperfixating on an individual means being unable to get rid of someone out of your head. This someone could be your friend, an ex, a dating partner, a crush, or a workmate. In this case, the person remains in your mind, just like those annoying beats keep playing repeatedly, and you can do nothing to stop these beats.

People who are hyperfixated on someone else want to forget the individual they are hyperfixating on and focus their attention on something else. However, they can’t accomplish that on their own.


Hyperfixation on a Fictional Character

Someone with hyperfixation on a character is likely to view a fictional character and then assume that “Yes! That is me.” The person starts talking from the fictional characters’ perspective that they are fixated on, and they strive to become like that character. The fictional character, in this case, is like a character in a movie, a book, or a TV show.

Due to continued occurrences of such behaviors, the person develops a strong passion for the character they are overthinking, which eventually affects their personality. The effect of hyperfixating on imaginary characters is so intense that it can take a toll on many people’s lives.

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Hyperfixation on Food

For people with ADHD and hyperfixation, food can become the center of their focus. They tend to concentrate on certain foods that they find interesting. These people tend to shift their interest from one food to the other. It is a more evident sign of ADHD. Such people may not be necessarily hyperactive. However, they are likely to exhibit symptoms of inattentiveness.

If you have food hyperfixation, your favorite foods, such as burgers or pizzas, will start racing in your mind and eventually prompt you to get them. You will have an intense passion for the foods you are thinking about all the time and get them for any hyperfixation meal. This behavior is detrimental since it can affect a person’s life and health.

Hyperfixation on Thoughts

There is a close relationship between mental illnesses, procrastination, and negative thoughts. Hence, hyperfixation is another symptom of mental illness.

Mental health disorders such as ADHD can make you have a rough day. These disorders could also make you go through bad experiences. Persons who are hyperfixating on thoughts are likely to do things in an attempt to escape bad experiences.

Hyperfixated people can have thoughts of any nature, even thoughts that don’t exist in real life. It can make you more sensitive to particular thoughts and emotions. This sensitivity to thoughts can make people spend more time thinking than doing essential tasks.


Hyperfixation on Shows

It makes you obsessed with a particular show on TV for weeks and possibly months. It can even go on for years. It doesn’t just happen with one show, but it can occur when you continue watching many shows. People with this kind of hyperfixation tend to fixate on the various performances on the shows they watch. They also can’t wait for new releases and behind-the-scenes episodes. Hyperfixation on shows usually starts when a person starts following a show casually and then gets hooked on watching every single episode. They will continue watching countless show episodes, and they can’t wait for the coming episode. This trend gradually becomes a contributing factor to mental illness.

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What Makes People Hyperfixate on Things?

Hyperfixation can last for long durations. It can drain a significant amount of your energy. While grappling with it, you invest in things that are too hard to accomplish, and hence you end up losing track of the most important things.

Doctors have linked hyperfixation with ADHD, although they haven’t officially named it as a mental illness. Pundits suggest that there is a close relationship between hyperfixation and brain hyperactivity. As you may know, hyperactivity is a significant sign of ADHD. Thus, hyperfixation is very close to ADHD.

It makes sense since there was a ‘flow’ concept in psychiatry in the early 90s. This concept reflects today’s definition of hyperfixation. According to the idea, a person may lose track of their life when focusing on a particular subject.

Is the Brain Structure a Possible Cause of Hyperfixation?

There is no evidence at the moment to support that the brain structure could be a possible cause of hyperfixation. However, some specific changes in the brain structure, such as the changes in the brain’s frontal lobe, can lead to it.

Behavioral problems could also lead to extreme focus, although there isn’t adequate evidence to support this claim. Mental deficits, however, can make people unable to take control of their behaviors and affect their ability to manage their attention.


Is Hyperfixation Normal?

Being fully immersed in something doesn’t signal the presence of a mental illness. However, it has its pros and cons, like everything else.

The Disadvantages of Hyperfixation

There is nothing wrong with spending hours indulging in productive activity. But when it gets to hyperfixation, there is a tendency to concentrate so much on a single task at the expense of forgetting other essential things. These complications below are expected as a result of hyperfixated behavior.


People with hyperfixation have a high risk of experiencing insomnia and other sleep problems, including difficulties staying asleep and nightmares. Sleep problems can also worsen because of other underlying mental illnesses such as ADHD. Even people who don’t have ADHD could experience racing minds due to hyperfixation.

Problems Socializing

Social skills can worsen when hyperfixation becomes a crucial part of one’s personality. Persons with mental illnesses are likely to experience social difficulties, including rejections and problems maintaining interpersonal relations.

It isn’t difficult to explain why people can experience socialization issues. This mental condition can take plenty of your time and energy. The subject you are hyperfixating on can eventually become your comfort zone. If you are hyperfixating on something, that thing will end up being your main objective of living. You won’t recognize that it all marks the beginning of the isolation you are getting yourself into without your consent.


Dependency on the Subject

Dependency on a subject means that a person starts relying on something purely for their interest. In this case, your hyperfixation subject becomes your need and necessity to live. Although depending on a subject, your support system might seem to offer temporary relief.

Hyperfixation doesn’t, however, have a limit. You can’t live without the subject you are hyperfixating on, and your everyday life becomes dependent on the presence and availability of that subject.

Isolation and Boredom

We have already seen that hyperfixation could potentially lead to socialization problems and isolation. Being obsessed with anything translates into the fact that you are in constant need of finding that thing. For instance, you could tend to watch more and more shows if you are fixated on a particular show. If you are unable to watch more shows, you can be pushed into boredom and isolation.

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The Pros of Hyperfixation

Hyperfixation also has its benefits like anything else. Below are some pros.

Developing Trust in People of Your Type

People having similar experiences and problems tend to bond well with each other. Many rehabilitative programs of hyperfixation involve people with mental health disorders in group activities. These persons seem to interact well with other people with the same issue.

People with hyperfixated behavior also tend to develop strong friendships with fellow hyperfixation sufferers. The chances are high that people can overcome isolation if they interact with other people with the same condition.

Develop Creativity

People who have hyper fixation and ADHD can become creative if they spend plenty of time exploring their favorite subjects. One perk of ADHD is the ability to think creatively. Hyperfixation, on the other hand, prompts you to spend time polishing the specific skills you are striving to perfect.

Channel Positivity

Hyperfixation can be a coping mechanism. In this case, it acts to divert from severe signs and symptoms of mental illnesses. Hyperfixation can enable you to channel positive characteristics and vibes of the subject that you are obsessed with. This positive attribute is a crucial part of therapy to stop people with hyperfixation from developing negative thoughts and procrastination.

Explaining ADHD Hyperfixation

Most people don’t see hyperfocus as a common symptom of ADHD. Most people who have ADHD might have a problem identifying their hyperfixation. However, hyperfocus is common in both kids and adults with ADHD.

What Exactly is ADHD Hyperfixation?

Hyperfixation is an intense focus on a subject or something for long durations of time. Persons who develop this mental condition tend to lose connection with their external world. They also tend to lose track of time. The most common sign of hyperfixation among ADHD kids is watching TV and playing video games for extended periods.

Similarly, adults tend to develop hyperfixation on the characters they watch in movies or the characters they read about in books and novels.

What Causes Hyperfixation?

Doctors haven’t been able to establish the real cause of hyperfixation to date. However, a theory suggests that inadequate dopamine levels in the brain are responsible for suppressing attention and focus, hence making a person incapable of accomplishing essential tasks.


A renowned psychiatrist, Larry Silver, an MD at Georgetown University Medical School, refers to hyperfixation as a coping mechanism for distraction. Silver notes that some of his students with ADHD tell him that they intensely focus on something when they need to accomplish a particular goal. Silver further notes that younger children also over-focus whenever they perform a pleasurable activity such as playing computer games or watching movies. These children don’t even realize they are focusing so intensely on a particular activity.

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Best Ways to Deal with Hyperfixation

Hyperfixation is essentially a personal crisis, and people suffering from it find it challenging to overcome it. Every minute is wasted on fixating on a subject that keeps on revolving around the mind. Fortunately, there are some specific methods you can use to get over your problem. Let’s see some ways you can use to overcome this symptom.

Figure Out Your Hyperfixation Subject

Figuring out the things you are fixating on is one of the first steps to overcoming hyperfixation. You could be fixating on a movie, for instance. Furthermore, you might develop an obsession with one of the movie characters in the long run, whereby you end up striving to become like that character. In such a case, it would help to know the specific subject of fixation to enable you to find alternatives that will help you deviate from your fixation subject.

Start Analyzing Your Thought Process

Analyzing your thought process can help you overcome your issue. You will understand where your energy and time are getting wasted after analyzing your thought process.

Schedule a Specific Time to Contemplate Your Hyperfixation Subject

Trying to resist hyperfixation can make it only worse. You will end up getting stressed and frustrated over it. The best way to deal with your condition is to schedule a time to think about it. This method works similarly to the withdrawal mechanism that is used in addiction recovery.

Organize Yourself

Being organized helps you manage your chores even if you are suffering from hyperfixation. Moreover, organizing yourself can be a great way of coping with it. You can include journaling or writing in your self-organization efforts. Your goal should entail listing your chores from the essential tasks to the lesser essential tasks. After listing down your chores, schedule time to accomplish every chore. You will be saving plenty of time by scheduling time for every job—schedule time to work on the most demanding tasks before you move to lesser demanding tasks.


Use Behavioral and Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness can help enhance your concentration and further enable you to deviate from possible stressors. Focus on your goals while practicing mindfulness and analyze their advantages and disadvantages. Make sure your thoughts are connected with your goals.

Besides using mindfulness to deal with hyperfixation, you should also use relaxation techniques. They can help you get over those stressful emotions and thoughts that can drain most of your time and energy, so you will soon start to show noticeable symptoms of physical fatigue.

Also, behavioral therapy is one of the techniques that you can use to overcome hyperfixation. With the help of a licensed therapist, you can learn how to correct your behaviors and identify what you lack to fix mental problems, including hyperfixation.

Seek Professional Help

It is hard to manage hyperfixation on your own, even with behavioral and mindfulness techniques. If your problem has become so severe to the extent that you cannot live your life normally, it is good you seek professional help from a health expert. A doctor will be instrumental in treating the root cause of your illness. For instance, a health specialist can help determine whether you have ADHD, contributing to hyperfixation. Most health specialists use psychotherapies to treat it. Some specialists also use counseling to help persons overcome this condition.

A Final Word

Hyperfixation is common in both kids and adults. It is also a common symptom of ADHD. Notwithstanding its debilitating nature, hyperfixation can partially become your superpower. You may get several benefits from it, including developing new skills, enhancing your creativity, and being able to do more tasks. But the negative side of hyperfixation is severe enough to make you worried.

Hyperfixation depression, ADHD, and anxiety can be difficult to manage, but with the right support and treatment, it is possible to live a happy, healthy life. Hence, it would help if you seek professional help or try some coping mechanisms to overcome the problems that come with hyperfixation that has affected many people to date.

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