Hyperfixation: A Unique Aspect of Mental Illness

June 29, 2021 0

 

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 Hyperfixation. 

This article looks into Hyperfixation and how it feels like to be a victim of this mental condition. There is a close link between Hyperfixation and ADHD. Everyone with ADHD would describe their experiences with Hyperfixation with similar experiences that people with ADHD go through.

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Please continue reading this guide to understand the unique physiology of Hyperfixation as a mental illness. At the end of this guide, you will learn about the various treatment options for Hyperfixation.

 

1. What Is Hyperfixation?

Most people with Hyperfixation don’t know about Hyperfixation. Hyperfixation 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 Hyperfixation can over-focus on multiple things. 

We shall look at some examples of Hyperfixation later in this guide. 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. 

Hyperfixation Defined 

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

Hyperfixation can’t be considered a sign of mental illness. Instead, 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 sign of 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 Hyperfixation 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 persons with Hyperfixation can’t recognize they require help to overcome this mental condition.

 

Hyperfixation
Conditions Associated with Hyperfixation

 

Below are examples of Hyperfixation to help you get a clear understanding of Hyperfixation. 

 

2. Common Types of Hyperfixation

Hyperfixation isn’t all about getting obsessed with a few specific things. Instead, most people hyperfixate about many things. These things usually shift from one person to the other. The things that people hyperfixate about depend on the person with Hyperfixation. Here are some examples of Hyperfixation. 

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 you are hyperfixating on, remains in your mind, just like those annoying beats keep playing repeatedly, and you can do nothing to stop these beats. 

Persons who are hyperfixating on someone 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 Hyperfixation behaviors, the person develops a strong passion for the character they are overthinking, which eventually affects their personality. The effect of hyperfixating over imaginary characters is so intense that it can take a toll on many people’s lives. 

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Hyperfixation on Food 

People with Hyperfixation and ADHD usually hyperfixate on food. They tend to concentrate on specific foods that they find interesting. These people tend to shift their interest from one food to the other.  

Hyperfixation on food is a more evident sign of ADHD. People with Hyperfixation on food may not be necessarily hyperactive. However, they are likely to exhibit symptoms of inattentiveness. 

If you are hyperfixating on foods such as burgers or pizzas, your mind will start racing and eventually prompt you to get your favorite foods. You will have an intense passion for the foods you are thinking about all the time. 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 with 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. 

People with Hyperfixation can have thoughts of any nature, even thoughts that don’t exist in real life. Hyperfixation 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 

This type of Hyperfixation makes you obsessed with a particular show on TV for weeks and possibly months. This type of Hyperfixation can even go on for years. It doesn’t just happen with one show, but it can occur when you continue watching many shows. 

Persons with 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. Persons with Hyperfixation on shows 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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3. What Makes People Hyperfixate on Things?

Hyperfixation can last for long durations. This condition can drain a significant amount of your energy. While grappling with Hyperfixation, 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 Hyperfixation 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. It is the same thing that happens to persons with Hyperfixation and ADHD. 

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 Hyperfixation. 

Behavioral problems could also lead to Hyperfixation, 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. 

 

Hyperfixation
Disadvantages of Hyperfixation

 

4. Is Hyperfixation Normal?

Being fully immersed in something doesn’t signal the presence of a mental illness. However, Hyperfixation 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 Hyperfixation.

  • Insomnia 

Persons with Hyperfixation have a high risk of experiencing insomnia and other sleep problems. For instance, persons with Hyperfixation can have difficulties staying asleep, and they might also experience nightmares. Sleep problems can also worsen with the severity of Hyperfixation and other underlying mental illnesses such as ADHD. Even persons that don’t have ADHD could experience racing minds due to Hyperfixation. 

  •  Problems Socializing 

Social skills can worsen when Hyperfixation becomes a crucial part of a person’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 persons with Hyperfixation 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 Hyperfixation 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. It is what Hyperfixation does to someone. 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. 

Nonetheless, 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. Hyperfixation could also lead to 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, your Hyperfixation can push you into boredom and isolation. 

 

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The Pros of Hyperfixation 

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

  • 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 persons with mental health disorders in group activities. This is what happens with persons with Hyperfixation. These persons seem to interact well with other people with Hyperfixation. 

People with Hyperfixation also tend to develop strong friendships with fellow Hyperfixation sufferers. The chances are high that people with Hyperfixation can overcome isolation if they interact with other people with Hyperfixation. 

  • Develop Creativity 

Hyperfixation is a severe mental problem. However, people with Hyperfixation and ADHD can become creative if they spend plenty of time exploring their favorite subjects. Hyperfixation can also help such people explore more, polish their existing skills and enhance their imagination. One perk of ADHD is the ability to think creatively. Hyperfixation, on the other hand, prompts you to spend time to polish the specific skills you are striving to perfect. 

  •  Channel Positivity 

Hyperfixation can be a coping mechanism among people. In this case, Hyperfixation 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 of Hyperfixation is a crucial part of therapy to stop people with Hyperfixation from developing negative thoughts and procrastination. 

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5. 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. 

Whatever subject one is hyperfixating on, the results are similar to all Hyperfixation types.  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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6. Best Ways to Deal with Hyperfixation

Hyperfixation is essentially a personal crisis that people suffering from this condition find challenging to overcome. 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 Hyperfixation problem. Let’s see some ways you can use to overcome Hyperfixation.

  • Figure Out Your Hyperfixation Subject

Figuring out the things you are fixating on is the first step 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 Hyperfixation problem. 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 your Hyperfixation problem worse. You will end up getting stressed and frustrated over your Hyperfixation problem. The best way to deal with your condition is to schedule a time to think about your Hyperfixation problem. 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 your Hyperfixation problem. You can include journaling or writing in your self-organization efforts. Your goal should entail listing your chores from the essential tasks to 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. 

 

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  • 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. Make sure your thoughts are connected with your goals. Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of your goals. 

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

Behavioral therapy is one of the behavioral techniques that you can use to overcome Hyperfixation. This technique is self-practiced, although a licensed therapist can also perform it. This technique will help you 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 Hyperfixation problem has become so severe to the extent that you can’t live your life normally, it is good you seek professional help from a health expert. A health expert will be instrumental in treating the root cause of your Hyperfixation problem. 

For instance, a health specialist can help determine whether you have ADHD, contributing to Hyperfixation. Most health specialists use psychotherapies to treat Hyperfixation. Some specialists also use counseling to help persons with Hyperfixation to overcome this condition.

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A Final Word

Hyperfixation is common in both kids and adults. It is also a common symptom of ADHD. Notwithstanding the debilitating nature of this condition, Hyperfixation can partially become your superpower. You may get several benefits from this condition, 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 about the condition. Hence, it would help if you seek professional help or try Hyperfixation coping mechanisms to overcome the problems that come with this mental condition that has affected many people to date.

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