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Difficulty Concentrating Checker

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Your Difficulty Concentrating May Also be Known as:
Arithmetic mistakes
Attention problems
Can't concentrate
Can't focus
Can't think
Careless mistakes
Difficult time focusing
Difficulty focusing
Difficulty thinking

Difficulty Concentrating Symptoms

The tasks are piling up at work or school, and you just can't seem to keep up. No matter how hard you try, it seems impossible to focus on the task at hand, with distractions drawing your attention away every few minutes.

Difficulty concentrating can be a debilitating problem in today's world as tasks grow more detailed and complex. Even the most dedicated taskmasters can fall victim to the problem from time to time. While some may try to ignore concentration issues or hope they will go away on their own, falling behind can make the problem worse by increasing stress levels further. So, it's best to address the problem as early as possible.

Though many people report difficulty concentrating symptoms, the issue can take different forms. Sometimes, the symptoms indicate medical issues, while other times, a mental health professional is best equipped to address the problem.

Some concerns associated with difficulty concentrating symptoms include:

  • Feeling on edge
  • Distractibility
  • Inability to sit still
  • Racing thoughts
  • Irritability
  • Frustration
  • Forgetfulness

Difficulty Concentrating Causes Overview

The causes for difficulty concentrating can be as varied as the symptoms, and there may be multiple factors contributing to the problem for any one person. Some of the most common causes fall into the following categories: psychological, medical and environmental.

Psychological difficulty concentrating causes:

  • Attention disorders: Though usually diagnosed in children, these can also strike adults and may seriously disrupt productivity at home, school or the office.
  • Depression : Feeling down or blue can make it tough to manage your thoughts.
  • Bereavement: After the death of a loved one, it can take months to recover.
  • Anxiety : Those with serious worries often have trouble focusing on just one task as there are many other issues competing for attention.
  • Mood disorders: Uncontrolled conditions such as bipolar disorder may involve racing thoughts that others can find hard to follow.

Medical difficulty concentrating causes:

  • Hormone problems: Dysfunction of the adrenal gland can result in changes in your energy level and ability to concentrate.
  • Thyroid issues: When your thyroid is working too little or too much, concentration can be impacted.
  • Low red blood cell count: Red blood cells carry oxygen to the brain, and a shortage can deprive the brain from essential energy necessary to do its work.

Environmental difficulty concentrating causes:

  • Stress : This can be a vicious cycle with stress at home or work zapping your concentration, making it difficult to complete tasks, which increases stress further.
  • Overstimulating environment: When a task isn't incredibly interesting, it may be almost impossible to tune out the nearby TV, put down the cell phone or stop chatting with your officemate.
  • Lack of sleep: A good night's rest is the body's way of recovering from a day of hard work, and without time off, drowsiness will almost certainly take over.
  • Burnout: If you're on the brink of emotional exhaustion, focusing on any task can be a losing battle until you address the underlying problem directly.

Sometimes people wonder if their difficulty concentrating is related to memory problems or other aging issues. It's important to distinguish normal aging from more severe conditions, such as dementia.

  • Normal aging: As we get older, it is normal to occasionally forget certain words or misplace the keys for a few minutes and then remember. This problem can be distracting but does not impact everyday tasks and usually will not require treatment.
  • Cognitive impairment: People with more severe memory problems, such as frequently forgetting events or even family member's names, often have issues keeping focused on a task or conversation. Sometimes friends or family notice problems before the person with concentration difficulties.

Top 10 Difficulty Concentrating Causes

  1. 1.Sleep Deprived

    Sleep is very important to health and adults should get a minimum of 7 hours each night. Sleep deprivation causes daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and headaches.

    You should try to sleep more.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating
    Symptoms that always occur with sleep deprived:
    hidden: sleep: duration: less than 7 hours, daytime sleepiness
    Symptoms that never occur with sleep deprived:
    nausea or vomiting, being severely ill, fever, unintentional weight loss
    Wait and watch
  2. 2.Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Gad)

    Anxiety is a common emotion from time to time; however, persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worrying are signs of generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is diagnosed when a person worries more days than not for at least six months and has symptoms like fatigue, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

    You should visit your primary care physician to further discuss your symptoms. It is likely you will be referred to a mental health professional. Your doctor will likely recommend talk therapy and/or antidepressant medication.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, trouble sleeping, irritability, nausea, general anxiety (stress)
    Symptoms that always occur with generalized anxiety disorder (gad):
    general anxiety (stress)
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Insomnia Disorder

    Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder that prevents one from falling asleep, staying asleep, or a combination of both.

    Sleep is of critical importance to physical and mental wellbeing. You should speak with your primary care physician about your inability to sleep well. Things you can do to improve your sleep are: regular exercise, keeping a regular bedtime and routine, avoiding caffeine several hours before going to bed and putting away your electronic devices before bedtime. In addition, try to do something relaxing like reading, listening to music or breathing exercises.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, mild headache, insomnia
    Symptoms that always occur with insomnia disorder:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Recurrent Depression

    Depression, once diagnosed, can often recur with new episodes. Sometimes these episodes can be similar to ones in the past, sometimes the symptoms can be different. It's good to be aware off the fact that people who had a depression before, remain vulnerable.

    You should discuss your symptoms with your primary care physician or psychiatrist. Resumption of, or adjustment to current treatment is often needed.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, stomach bloating, loss of appetite
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Mild Chronic Depression (Dysthymia)

    Dysthymia, also called persistent depressive disorder, is a form of depression that is chronic. The causes of dysthymia are complex, and often are a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors. Dysthymia can interfere with everyday life, and people with this condition report feeling loss of interest in their daily activities, sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of energy.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will likely coordinate care with a psychologist or psychiatrist. Dysthymia is treated similarly to depression with therapy and antidepressant medication.

    Top Symptoms:
    depressed mood, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbance
    Symptoms that always occur with mild chronic depression (dysthymia):
    depressed mood
    Symptoms that never occur with mild chronic depression (dysthymia):
    severe sadness
    Primary care doctor

    Difficulty Concentrating Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having difficulty concentrating.

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  6. 6.Premenstrual Syndrome

    Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a very common condition. PMS has a variety of symptoms including cramping, mood swings, food cravings, fatigue, irritability, breast tenderness & depression.

    You may recognize this diagnosis on your own due to the of the timing of your symptoms. Treatment can involve decreasing caffeine, salt and/or refined sugar, increasing exercise, and reducing stress. If symptoms become more severe, a doctor may prescribe an oral birth control pill or an anti-depressant.

    Top Symptoms:
    stomach bloating, anxiety, constipation, breast pain, depressed mood
    Symptoms that never occur with premenstrual syndrome:
    constant sadness, severe sadness
  7. 7.Vitamin B12 Deficiency

    Vitamin B12 is a vitamin crucial to healthy neurological and cardiovascular functioning. If deficient, symptoms include trouble thinking, anxiety, stomach issues, and weakness.

    You should visit your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, racing heart beat, history of headaches
    Symptoms that never occur with vitamin b12 deficiency:
    menstrual period changes
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Acute Stress Disorder

    Acute stress disorder describes changes in one's mood or memory for less than a month following an emotional or traumatic event.

    You should visit your primary care physician, who can do a thorough assessment and refer you to a psychiatrist if necessary. Treatment is mostly through counseling.

    Top Symptoms:
    trouble sleeping, irritability, anxiety, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating
    Symptoms that always occur with acute stress disorder:
    impaired social or occupational functioning
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Holiday Blues

    The holiday blues is a mild form of seasonal affective disorder.

    You do not need treatment at this time. If your symptoms worsen or last longer than a month, it is recommended you see your physician for further evaluation.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, loss of appetite, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbance
    Symptoms that never occur with holiday blues:
    severe sadness
    Wait and watch
  10. 10.Post - Traumatic Brain Injury Syndrome

    After a concussion or traumatic brain injury, the brain needs time to recover. In many cases, people suffer symptoms like headache and fatigue for years after the initial injury.

    Since you previously had a head injury, it is prudent to speak with your primary care physician about these symptoms.

    Top Symptoms:
    headache, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, daytime sleepiness
    Primary care doctor

Difficulty Concentrating Treatments and Relief

Since many causes of concentration problems are related to lifestyle and environmental issues, try changing your routine as first-line treatment.

  • Reduce stimuli in your environment: A constantly buzzing cell phone is a recipe for disaster when working on a deadline. Silence your electronics, turn off the TV and shut the door so that you can have some peace and quiet.
  • Get a good night's sleep: It's hard to overestimate the benefits of a solid eight or nine hours of sleep.
  • Give up caffeine: Though it can give an effective energy boost, caffeine can also make people feel restless and distractible. If you've been drinking coffee or energy drinks for a while, wean yourself over a few weeks to avoid withdrawal symptoms like headaches.
  • Make a schedule: Creating a task list and setting mini-deadlines makes it easier to stay on task and keep track of your progress.

If these changes don't make a difference, it's time to visit your doctor, who may try some of the following difficulty concentrating treatments depending on your symptoms.

  • Therapy: Working with a professional is the best way to address underlying problems like depression or anxiety that make it difficult to keep focused on even simple tasks.
  • Cognitive testing: A neurologist can perform special tests to determine if you may be experiencing normal aging, or if there is concern for a more serious problem.
  • Stimulants: Medications like Adderall or Ritalin can dramatically improve concentration in those with properly diagnosed attention disorders.
  • Psychotropic mediations: Sometimes other prescription medications are the best option if difficulty concentrating is due to an underlying psychiatric condition.
  • Blood tests: A doctor may decide to check the level of your hormones or blood count to determine if you require a medical treatment for concentration problems.

See your doctor right away if you have the following difficulty concentrating symptoms:

  • Sudden onset, severe headache
  • Difficulty seeing or speaking
  • Confusion
  • Sudden weakness in the face or body

FAQs About Difficulty Concentrating

Here are some frequently asked questions about difficulty concentrating.

Can anxiety cause difficulty concentrating?

Yes, anxiety can cause difficulty concentrating. Psychological disorders associated with anxiety include generalized or situational anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder. Difficulty concentrating may be because of intrusive thoughts, involving worry about a particular topic, or intrusive memories of a past traumatic event

Does stress lead to difficulty concentrating?

Yes, stress can lead to difficulty concentrating. Stress activates the fight or flight system which primes the body to be aware of threats in the immediate environment. Stress can keep one from acquiring the focus necessary to concentrate on a single task. If you are having trouble concentrating, you may also be tired. Rest can increase the ability to concentrate for large periods. Breathing exercises and mindfulness have also shown an ability to increase an individual's concentration.

Can my difficulty concentrating be a sign of depression?

Yes, difficulty concentrating can be a sign of depression. A diagnosis of depression requires other symptoms as well, including but not limited to agitation, inability to sleep or excessive sleepiness, lack of interest in one's normal joys or passions, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, decreased energy, decreased appetite or increased appetite, inability to sit still or slow movements, and suicidal thoughts.

Why do I have difficulty concentrating while pregnant?

Difficulty concentrating can be due to many processes of pregnancy. Decreased sleep is the most common cause, but if difficulty concentrating occurs with confusion and an elevated blood pressure, you may have a life threatening condition and should contact your physician immediately. There are reports of "pregnancy brain" refering to a fog, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty remembering things. Unfortunately, there have been no surveys of frequency or studies on this process. Currently, literature has no concrete evidence suggestive of a cause, but common theories include a shift in hormones, blood flow, lack of sleep, or general stress as contributors to pregnancy associated confusion.

Can low iron cause difficulty concentrating?

Low iron can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and difficulty concentrating. Iron is used to create the chemical structure (heme) that exists within red blood cells and is used to carry oxygen. If you have low iron stores, you may not have enough blood (anemia) to carry optimal amounts of oxygen to your brain. This can lead to lightheadedness and difficulty concentrating.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Difficulty Concentrating

  • Q.Are you feeling irritable (easily made upset)?
  • Q.Do you have trouble sleeping?
  • Q.Do you currently smoke?
  • Q.Have you lost your appetite recently?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our difficulty concentrating symptom checker.

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Difficulty Concentrating Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced difficulty concentrating have also experienced:

    • 8% Foggy Feeling in the Head
    • 8% Fatigue
    • 5% Headache
  • People who have experienced difficulty concentrating were most often matched with:

    • 8% Insomnia Disorder
    • 5% Sleep Deprived
    • 4% Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Gad)
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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Difficulty Concentrating Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having difficulty concentrating.

Take a quiz