ADHD Hyperfixation: How to Recognize It? | HealthReporter (2023)

ADHD Hyperfixation: How to Recognize It? | HealthReporter (1)

In This Article

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects a person’s behavior. Individuals with ADHD tend to appear restless or fidgety, have trouble concentrating, and may act without thinking. The condition is usually diagnosed in childhood.

These are the most common characteristics, but other ADHD behaviors can affect a person’s daily life. It can cause complications at home, school, and in relationships. Still, ADHD is a manageable condition with several treatment options to help improve behaviors.

In this article, you can learn all about ADHD and hyperfixation.

In This Article

(Video) Hyper-Fixation Causes Problems in Your Life | HealthyPlace

Is Hyperfixation a Symptom of ADHD?

Hyperfixation is a well-recognized symptom of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is known as ADHD hyperfocus or hyperfixation and is characterized by an obsession with a particular subject, object, activity, or person. Those experiencing hyperfixation may feel so engrossed by something that they struggle to focus on anything else.

While hyperfixation is commonly associated with ADHD, it can be a symptom of other mental health conditions. The most common examples include anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, and schizophrenia.

ADHD Hyperfixation: How to Recognize It? | HealthReporter (2)

What Is Hyperfixation?

Hyperfixation, or hyperfocus, is characterized by an intense state of focus on a subject to the exclusion of everything else. A person experiencing hyperfocus is wholly fascinated and absorbed in a single task, and they may lose hours focusing on their newfound interest.

Hyperfixation is more than showing an interest. It can consume the person’s life to the point where they neglect themselves and others. They may no longer manage to stay connected with anything or anyone other than the subject of interest, which can be detrimental to mental and physical health.

Special interest vs. hyperfixation

It’s healthy to find activities that bring you happiness. You might find something that you find completely thrilling that you can take up as a hobby. When you genuinely enjoy doing something, task performance tends to improve as you practice and master your chosen skill.

Special interest and hyperfixation are similar. Both are unique, and the root causes vary between individuals. Having a special interest in something doesn’t always indicate a mental health disorder, but these interests can accelerate into severe bouts of hyperfixation.

Examples of ADHD Hyperfixation

Examples of hyperfixation in those with ADHD can vary from person to person. Anything can become the object of hyperfixation, but it ultimately depends on what they find interesting. Like anyone, you are more likely to focus your attention on something that makes you happy.

Below are some examples of what a person might hyperfixate on:

  • Reading a book
  • Binge-watching television
  • Playing video games
  • DIY or home projects
  • Arts and crafts projects
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Homework and studying

When Does Hyperfixation Become a Problem?

Everyone can experience moments of hyperfixation at some point in their lives. From binge-watching a particular TV show to trying to beat your high score on a video game, we all have obsessions. The difference is that, in most cases, these fixations do not dominate our lives.

(Video) What is ADHD?

Hyperfixation becomes a problem when it begins to have a negative impact on your life. It can become so intense that it interrupts daily functioning. You might find it impossible to complete other tasks or focus your attention on anything other than the subject.

Hyperfixation can have a significant impact on your well-being. Adult ADHD can lead an individual to neglect themselves and others. For example, they might forget to wash, eat, and sleep or forget important commitments, such as attending meetings or collecting their children from daycare.

5 Ways to Manage ADHD Hyperfixation

You don’t have to let hyperfixation run your life. While it is a part of the condition, there are ways to control your ADHD behaviors better. Doing so will help ensure you manage your important tasks, keep track of other responsibilities, and improve your emotional wellness.

Here are five ways to manage hyperfixation:

#1 Educate yourself

Start by educating yourself to understand how the ADHD brain works. Understanding your condition better can help you spot the signs so you know when you are beginning to hyperfixate. However, it can be difficult to suppress strong impulses to act a certain way.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also help people with ADHD manage physical symptoms.

#2 Set timers or reminders

ADHD hyperfocus can be time-consuming. You might block out the world and everyone in it for hours at a time. Setting time limits can help you regain some control over this issue. That way, you can allocate set periods to engage fully in a task without neglecting other commitments. For example, you could set the alarm to ring after a few hours of screen time.

#3 Remove all distractions

If hyperfixation is taking over, try removing yourself from the situation. Certain environmental factors might cause you to fixate. For example, if you’re working from home and find yourself distracted by the latest episode of your favorite TV show, try setting up in a different room away from the TV.

You can also remove distractions by creating new habits. Engaging in different activities can help you break the cycle of obsession. You could go for long morning walks to clear your head and keep you away from your current distraction.

#4 Set priorities

It can be tough, but setting priorities might help you limit your episodes of hyperfixation. Force yourself to commit to other tasks that keep your mind from fixation. Prioritizing exercise is a good way to ensure you remain in good physical health during these times. Again, you can set a reminder to ensure you attend your classes or training sessions.

#5 Try therapy

Talking with a mental health professional can give you further insight into your ADHD symptoms. A therapist can give you coping techniques to put into practice during hyperfixation episodes. You can seek professional help with online and face-to-face sessions.

Psychological research supports cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment option for ADHD in adults. It prioritizes reducing symptoms and increasing cognitive control of self-regulation and executive functioning. There are also support groups you can attend for further assistance.

(Video) 6 Signs and Symptoms Of ADHD


Can you hyperfixate on a person?

Yes, you can hyperfixate on a person. Those with ADHD can develop an obsessive preoccupation with a particular individual and may hyperfixate for long periods or a matter of days. You can also hyperfixate on an object, interest, or hobby, such as playing a video game.

Why do I hyperfixate on things?

It’s perfectly normal to have a healthy interest in various subjects, especially those that spark your curiosity. However, you may have underlying issues if you frequently lose track of time and struggle with daily activities because of your hyperfixation. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about hyperfixation.

Can you have hyperfixation without ADHD?

Yes, you can have hyperfixation without an ADHD diagnosis. It can be one of the symptoms of several other mental health disorders. However, anyone can engage in activities or develop an interest in something for a more extended period than initially planned.

A Word From a Psychologist

People with ADHD experience many symptoms, one of which is hyperfixation. Hyperfixation results in long periods of highly focused attention, regardless of anything else going on elsewhere. It can negatively impact everyday life when the fixation is severe.

You can improve it with some simple steps. Educating yourself, removing distractions, and concentrating on your priorities can help combat hyperfixation. It will be challenging, but attempting to implement some positive changes can support you on your journey.

Talk to your doctor about ways to manage hyperfixation. While there is no cure for ADHD, you don’t have to suffer in silence. There are ways to minimize its effects on your life, and treatment in adults may include psychological therapies and certain prescription medications.

It’s also vital that ADHD is recognized. If you don’t have a diagnosis but are experiencing the symptoms associated with the disorder, seek professional advice. If left untreated, it may increase risk factors for developing depression, anxiety disorder, and other mental health challenges.

(Video) 5 Signs It's Your ADHD, Not Laziness


So, what are our final thoughts on ADHD hyperfixation?

It’s vital to remain patient and kind to yourself while handling hyperfixation. It is a part of ADHD that requires understanding and care. Although more research is necessary to understand hyperfixation, it is a manageable pattern of behavior that you can improve with time.

ADHD Hyperfixation: How to Recognize It? | HealthReporter (3)

Written by

Edibel Quintero, RD

(Video) What It's Like Seeking An ADHD Diagnosis As An Adult

ADHD Hyperfixation: How to Recognize It? | HealthReporter (4) ADHD Hyperfixation: How to Recognize It? | HealthReporter (5)

Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.

Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD


How do you know if it's a Hyperfixation? ›

Hyperfixation happens when you're completely engrossed by something, to the point where it becomes all-consuming and disrupts your day-to-day functioning. It gets hard to focus on anything other than the object of your hyperfixation. You can become hyperfixated on a hobby, interest, person, place, etc.

What does ADHD Hyperfixation feel like? ›

Hyperfixation is characterized by an obsessive preoccupation with a particular person, object, or activity. People with hyperfixation often fixate on trivial or even imaginary things, and they may become so focused on their obsession that they neglect their own health and well-being.

What is hyperfixation ADHD examples? ›

Hyperfixation is not unique to individuals with ADHD. But almost every child and adult with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) knows what it feels like to become so engrossed in something — a book, a home project, a video game — that they block out the world around them for hours at a time.

Do you have ADHD if you Hyperfixate? ›

Hyperfixation, also referred to as hyperfocus, is commonly connected with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), autism, and depression.

How do you break a Hyperfixation? ›

Here are some ways of dealing with hyperfixation:
  1. Knowing when to start. If you have trouble stopping your hyperfixation, knowing when to start can help you control it. ...
  2. Setting a time limit. ...
  3. Staying connected to other people. ...
  4. Addressing the main cause. ...
  5. Cognitive behavioral therapy.
Sep 22, 2022

What are hyperfocus examples? ›

It is generally reported to occur when a person is engaged in an activity that is particularly fun or interesting. An example of hyperfocus is when a child becomes engrossed in a video game to a point where they do not hear a parent calling their name.

How do you know if you're overstimulated ADHD? ›

Symptoms of overstimulation
  • sensitivity to certain textures, fabrics, clothing tags, or other things that may rub against the skin.
  • unable to hear or focus over background sounds.
  • dislike of certain food flavors or textures.
  • urge to cover your ears or shield your eyes from too much stimuli.
  • extreme irritability.
Jul 27, 2021

What overstimulation feels like ADHD? ›

Overstimulation is a state of feeling overwhelmed by the situation you are in. This might take the form of physical or emotional discomfort and feeling like your brain is frozen or you're unable to think or process anything that's happening.

Why ADHD brains crave stimulation? ›

Indeed, ADHD brains struggle to sustain motivation when rewards are mild or are linked to long-term gratification. As a result, ADHD brains search for stimulation that can increase dopamine more quickly and intensely. Ultimately, the pursuit of pleasurable rewards may become a potent form of self-medication.

Can you hyperfixate without being neurodivergent? ›

Add to that people who hyperfixate but don't have one of the neurodiverse diagnoses, and the list of possible underlying causes gets very long. But that's OK. It just takes careful detective work from a skilled practitioner to figure out what's really going on.

Can ADHD cause hypersexuality? ›

Individuals with ADHD reported significantly more hypersexual behaviors than non-ADHD individuals, whereas no differences were found concerning risky sexual behaviors or sexual dysfunctions.

What is the difference between Hyperfixation and hyperfocus? ›

So let's summarize. Hyper focus to me, is a temporary state that you can fall into and out of. Hyper fixation is something you come back to again and again and again.

What are the signs of ADHD in female adults? ›

Adult ADHD symptoms may include:
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Disorganization and problems prioritizing.
  • Poor time management skills.
  • Problems focusing on a task.
  • Trouble multitasking.
  • Excessive activity or restlessness.
  • Poor planning.
  • Low frustration tolerance.
Jan 25, 2023

Why do people with ADHD Hyperfixate on things? ›

What Causes the ADHD Brain to Hyperfocus? Like distractibility, hyperfocus is thought to result from abnormally low levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is particularly active in the brain's frontal lobes. This dopamine deficiency makes it hard to “shift gears” to take up boring-but-necessary tasks.

Is ADHD A Neurodivergent? ›

Some of the conditions that are most common among those who describe themselves as neurodivergent include: Autism spectrum disorder (this includes what was once known as Asperger's syndrome). Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Down syndrome.

How do you snap out of hyperfocus ADHD? ›

Tips to Control Hyperfocus in Adults
  1. Figure out what kinds of things you hyperfocus on.
  2. Don't start anything you can get hyperfocused on close to bedtime or before you start something you're likely to try to put off.
  3. Stay aware of your mindset. ...
  4. Practice being fully present.
Aug 25, 2022

Can you control what you Hyperfixate on? ›

Train Your Hyperfocus

You can't just switch your trait on and off. But you can learn what causes you to zero in on certain things. Case in point: You're likely to lose yourself only in activities that you find interesting. In other words, you can set the stage -- or not -- for going into hyperfocus mode.

How do people with ADHD think? ›

People with ADHD will have at least two or three of the following challenges: difficulty staying on task, paying attention, daydreaming or tuning out, organizational issues, and hyper-focus, which causes us to lose track of time. ADHD-ers are often highly sensitive and empathic.

Do people with ADHD have sensory issues? ›


Some of the symptoms of ADHD—such as self-regulation and trouble paying attention to what's going on around you—may themselves induce sensory overload.

Do people with ADHD hyperfocus on things they like? ›

Kids with ADHD often experience hyperfocus on things that really interest them, even when they have a hard time paying attention to things that don't interest them. For example, a child might spend hours reading a book they love but struggle to focus on homework.

What disorder is the opposite of ADHD? ›

People with SCT have trouble focusing and paying attention, but they're less likely to be impulsive or hyperactive.

What does an ADHD meltdown look like? ›


It's one of the challenging or explosive behaviors we see in those who have ADHD. Sometimes it appears as poor self-esteem, yelling, rage, or tears.

What does an ADHD shutdown look like? ›

Differences in emotions in people with ADHD can lead to 'shutdowns', where someone is so overwhelmed with emotions that they space out, may find it hard to speak or move and may struggle to articulate what they are feeling until they can process their emotions.

What does an ADHD episode look like? ›

With ADHD, a child or teen may have rapid or impulsive speech, physical restlessness, trouble focusing, irritability, and, sometimes, defiant or oppositional behavior.

What is masking ADHD? ›

If you hide your adult ADHD symptoms from other people, that's called masking. Basically, you're trying to seem more “normal” or “regular.” ADHD causes some people to act hyperactive or impulsive. It makes other folks have trouble paying attention. And still other adults have a combination of those symptoms.

Is ADHD uncomfortable in your own skin? ›

Your body may also feel restless when ADHD symptoms intensify, and you may grow incredibly uncomfortable in your own skin. At a certain point, the worries may keep you from completing what you're working on. This, in turn, may make you feel defeated.

What foods make ADHD worse? ›

Some of the common foods that can cause ADHD reactions include milk, chocolate, soy, wheat, eggs, beans, corn, tomatoes, grapes, and oranges. If you suspect a food sensitivity may be contributing to your child's ADHD symptoms, talk to your ADHD dietitian or doctor about trying an elimination diet.

Why do people with ADHD love music? ›


Research shows that pleasurable music increases dopamine levels in the brain. This neurotransmitter — responsible for regulating attention, working memory, and motivation — is in low supply in ADHD brains.

What is an example of dopamine seeking in ADHD? ›

Since ADHDers have less dopamine1, they may find themselves seeking out anything and everything that might make them feel good.
What is dopamine-seeking behavior?
  • Risky sexual behaviors.
  • Pornography.
  • Binge-drinking.
  • Substance use and abuse.
  • Gambling.
  • Shopping.
  • Instigating conflict with others.
  • Binge-eating.
Oct 26, 2022

Is ADHD a trauma response? ›

Trauma and traumatic stress, according to a growing body of research, are closely associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). Trauma and adversity can alter the brain's architecture, especially in children, which may partly explain their link to the development of ADHD.

How do I know if I'm neurodivergent or not? ›

You absolutely are neurodivergent if you have been diagnosed with a developmental or learning disorder, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, or Tourette's syndrome. You may decide to consider yourself neurodivergent if you have no diagnosis but think, behave, or interact in ways that are outside the norm.

How do I get tested for neurodivergent? ›

The best way to know if you or your child is neurodivergent is to talk to your doctor. They can refer you to another doctor or assess if you meet the criteria for neurodivergent conditions.

What does stimming mean? ›

Stimming – or self-stimulatory behaviour – is repetitive or unusual body movement or noises. Stimming might include: hand and finger mannerisms – for example, finger-flicking and hand-flapping. unusual body movements – for example, rocking back and forth while sitting or standing.

Do people with ADHD fantasize a lot? ›

Maladaptive daydreaming is often associated with ADHD, with many people believing that it is a symptom of the condition, but this isn't entirely accurate. People with ADHD, specifically inattentive or combined ADHD, are more likely to daydream as a result of their mind wondering more, so to speak.

When someone with ADHD falls in love? ›

Intense emotions and hyperfocus

Kids with ADHD often feel emotions more deeply than other kids do. When teens with ADHD fall in love, the feelings of joy and excitement can be even more intense for them. Teens might feel a deep sense of intimacy and acceptance, perhaps for the first time.

Do people with ADHD fantasize more? ›

ADHD gives students lots of fantasies. These can be a distraction, but can also give students the power to create a new world. Participants will explore how to re-direct fantasies of escape toward evolution. The distinct functions of studying, thinking and imagination in the classroom will be explored.

What is hyperfixation on negative thoughts? ›

Hyperfixation is an excessive and prolonged focus on a single object, idea, or activity. People can spend hours fixed on anything from a person or place to a memory or negative thoughts. When we hyperfixate, we get lost in thought about the object of our focus. This can take over our lives in extreme cases.

What are the hidden struggles of a woman with ADHD? ›

They often struggle with rejection sensitivity, an intense emotional response to real or perceived rejection, which can make social interaction a potential source of pain. They are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors compared to women without ADHD.

What does high functioning ADHD look like? ›

High-functioning ADHD could mean: you experience severe symptoms but have developed “work arounds” to carry on with daily tasks and responsibilities. your symptoms are mild, and you're able to function with minimal impairment. symptoms are greatly impairing in some areas but you're highly functional in others.

What does untreated ADHD look like in girls? ›

ADHD in Girls: Recognizing Key Symptoms

exhibiting silliness or apparent ditziness. acting shy or inattentive. trouble maintaining friendships. picking at cuticles or skin.

What is ADHD Type 3 overfocused? ›

Over-Focused ADD is the third most common type of ADD. Those with Type 3 ADD can have difficulty shifting their attention. They become hyper-focused on one thing while tuning out everything else. People with Over-Focused ADD tend to get “stuck” in negative thought patterns and behaviors.

Why people with ADHD are good employees? ›

Research shows employees with ADHD can be more curious, creative, imaginative, innovative, and inventive. They tend to be out-of-the-box thinkers, with an approach that can be highly prized in the workplace. Your ADHD symptoms can work for you, when you learn more about them and have proper treatment.

Is ADHD a form of autism? ›

Autism spectrum disorder and ADHD are related in several ways. ADHD is not on the autism spectrum, but they have some of the same symptoms. And having one of these conditions increases the chances of having the other.

Are adults with ADHD intelligent? ›

However, there is no correlation between this condition and intelligence. In fact, according to one study , ADHD affects people in the same way across high, average, and low IQ score ranges. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that can make it difficult for people to focus and to control impulsive behaviors.

Am I Hyperfixating on a person? ›

Hyperfixation is characterized by an obsessive preoccupation with a particular person, object, or activity. People with hyperfixation often fixate on trivial or even imaginary things, and they may become so focused on their obsession that they neglect their own health and well-being.

Does ADHD make you obsessive? ›

Obsessing and ruminating are often part of living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). No matter how hard you try to ignore them, those negative thoughts just keep coming back, replaying themselves in an infinite loop.

Does ADHD cause love bombing? ›

Toxic relationships hound many people with ADHD, whose persistent symptoms and battered self-esteem make them especially susceptible to “love bombing,” “trauma bonding,” and other romantic red flags.

How do you break an obsessive thought cycle? ›

Tips for addressing ruminating thoughts
  1. Distract yourself. When you realize you're starting to ruminate, finding a distraction can break your thought cycle. ...
  2. Plan to take action. ...
  3. Take action. ...
  4. Question your thoughts. ...
  5. Readjust your life's goals. ...
  6. Work on enhancing your self-esteem. ...
  7. Try meditation. ...
  8. Understand your triggers.

Why do I fixate over things? ›

People who overthink things regularly, psychologists believe, are often those who may have larger self-esteem or acceptance issues, Dr. Winsberg explains. If you're constantly overthinking (more on that later), however, it may be a symptom of clinical anxiety and depression or even obsessive-compulsive disorder.


1. ADD & Loving It?! (Full PBS Documentary)
(Rick Wants To Know)
2. ADHD in Women
(How to ADHD)
3. How My Hyperfixation Helped Me Process as a Late Diagnosed Autistic ADHDer
(Autism Family Life)
4. A Day in the Life with ADHD
(Charleston Shoe Productions)
5. The TRUTH about ADHD accommodations 👎| time and a half, note taker, tutoring
6. Erica Saum: Hyperfixations & the Enneagram
(Women & ADHD)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Last Updated: 04/05/2023

Views: 5445

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Birthday: 1998-01-29

Address: Apt. 611 3357 Yong Plain, West Audra, IL 70053

Phone: +5819954278378

Job: Construction Director

Hobby: Embroidery, Creative writing, Shopping, Driving, Stand-up comedy, Coffee roasting, Scrapbooking

Introduction: My name is Dr. Pierre Goyette, I am a enchanting, powerful, jolly, rich, graceful, colorful, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.