What is Hyperfixation?
Hyperfixation, or hyperfocus, is a condition that occurs when a person shows an unusual or excessive interest in one object. The most common type of hyperfixation is when you are too focused on doing a task, you forget to do other things like eating or sleeping.
Hyperfixation can also be used as a coping mechanism for people who are dealing with anxiety due to changes in their routines.
Hyperfixation and ADHD
For individuals with ADHD, hyperfixation is a common phenomenon. It’s when you become so consumed in something that you block out the world around you for several hours until you complete your task or objective – this can be anything from reading books to completing home projects or playing video games.
However, hyperfixation is not only limited to those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children and adults without ADHD can still show signs of hyperfocus.
Hours can drift by without you realizing it when your focus is hyperfocused. This happens in children, adults, and anyone who holds the object of fixation for too long. If left uninterrupted hours will pass as important tasks or relationships get neglected until something interrupts this behavior/attentional state.
Common Types of Hyperfixation
There are many ways in which people can hyperfixate. One way is to obsess over a multitude of different things instead of just one specific thing, as most do. Here are some of the common things people hyperfixate on.
Hyperfixation on a Person
You can’t stop thinking about someone. Your mind keeps going back to them, like that annoying song on repeat. It’s not easy or pleasant but you just have this relentless fixation with a specific person and there is nothing else in the world right now for you except thinking of them over and over again!
When trying to get over someone, hyperfixating on them can’t help. It just keeps the person in our thoughts and memories for longer than necessary.
Hyperfixation on Food
People with Hyperfixation on food tend to exhibit symptoms of inattentiveness. They are likely to hyperfocus their attention on specific foods that they find interesting and shift from one fixation point to another quickly.
In this way, people who tend to hyperfocus will suffer the negative consequences associated with ADHD while not necessarily being very active or disruptive during daily tasks at home or work.
A person who is hyperfixating on foods such as pizzas or lasagnas will have an intense passion for the food they are thinking about all the time. This behavior can be detrimental to a person’s life and health since it could affect them in multiple ways.
Hyperfixation on Shows
This type of hyperfixation can last for weeks and even months, as you become obsessed with a particular TV show.
This fixation does not just occur to one specific show; it can extend to you watching multiple shows in the long run and being too focused on them than anything else in your life.
Persons with hyperfixation on shows are those who become obsessed with watching all the episodes of their favorite TV show. They cannot wait for new releases and behind-the-scenes specials, which then all become a factor that contributes to mental illness.
Hyperfixation on Thoughts
Persons who are hyperfixating on thoughts and have ADHD may also turn out to be procrastinators.
Procrastination is a problem that occurs when one gets stuck with negative thoughts, which could often result from issues related to mental health disorders.
Hyperfixation can make you more sensitive to certain thoughts and emotions, which can make you spend too much time thinking rather than doing essential tasks.
Hyperfixation on a Fictional Character
Someone with a fixation on fictional characters will try to become like their fixated character. They may start talking from the perspective of that character and thinking they are them, trying hard to be as flawless or perfect as this person is in their eyes.
The fictional character in this case is like a movie or book character. This person develops an intense passion for overthinking, and it can affect them negatively; they might even act as if the character were real, which would take away from reality to some degree.
The Advantages of Hyperfixation
Hyperfixation allows people to get a lot done in a short amount of time, but it also enables them to fully devote their attention toward something that interests them — improving skills through countless hours of dedicated effort.
For a child, this can be used to broaden their knowledge about a certain subject like studying for their Mathematics or Science exam.
For adults, this can make them much more productive than their colleagues in the office they are working on.
Hyperfixation can have other benefits as well like:
Completing more tasks or projects in a short amount of time
Easily improve certain skills
A good way to harness ones’ creativity
Improving your current relationships by being hyperfocus
Some hyperfixations can be beneficial – like when people find the communities that feel most comfortable to them.
For example, some neurodivergent people might focus on their careers and excel in a certain field or even de-stress themselves by creating something they love without experiencing any pressure from others.
The Disadvantages of Hyperfixation
Unfortunately, focusing too much on one thing can cause severe issues. It’s easy to get annoyed by someone who is hyperfixated because they’ll only focus on something that matters most to them and ignore everything else around them.
The main drawbacks to hyperfixation are:
Neglecting to live a healthy lifestyle
Can lead to socialization problems like isolation or boredom
Being too focused on pointless tasks like browsing social media sites or playing games
Failing to show up to your loved ones
Forgetting about your relationships with people you value
Some people who hyperfocus lose interest in doing other things which can become very unhealthy for them in the long run.
A person with hyperfocus might prioritize a pastime over more important things like work or family. It is difficult to be close to someone who has this lack of focus because it can jeopardize your commitments and priorities.
Difference Between Hyperfixation and Addiction
The simplest way to define addiction is an extreme dependence on something that causes incredible distress when the focus isn’t being used. Often, addicts will experience anxiety and aggression without their object of desire or need.
Some people like to have an experience more than once, while others lose interest in the same thing over time. Having a hyperfixation on something can be seen when there are drop-off periods where the desire for that activity or task decreases greatly and then suddenly increases again later. People with depression or anxiety often notice that they prefer outside distractions when their hyperfixation is at its worst during certain days of the week.
If you think that this could apply to your life, it’s worth assessing whether or not you should get help from a professional.
How to Manage Hyperfixation?
When you become hyperfocused on something, there are ways to bring that focus back in check. If you or someone else is feeling out of control with their fixation, here’s how to get your fix under control.
Before jumping into a task or project, decide what might be an appropriate time commitment. Maybe you allot one hour per day for the project and do other tasks that are also important to you afterward.
Make Use of Redirections
To keep the hyperfocused person on track, multiple reminders should be set. These can include alarms, timers, or someone that they trust to break free by sending a text message, calling them, or even knocking at their door.
Use It To Your Advantage
Focus is a powerful thing. Whether you’re trying to master complicated subjects or excel at sports, focus can help propel your efforts forward and get results. Remember that many people have harnessed their unique abilities to achieve extraordinary things with the power of focus.
Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help
We have all heard the saying, honesty is the best policy. But when it comes to mental health issues that sentiment becomes difficult to understand for those who do not suffer from them. Being honest with your support system about these problems can help shatter stigmas and make everyone comfortable addressing these issues head-on.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hyperfixation
Here are some answers you’ve been looking for about hyperfixation so you can understand this special condition better.
Is hyperfocus normal?
Yes. As opposed to popular belief, hyperfocus is considered normal by many experts. Hyperfixation, or the ability to focus on one thing for a prolonged time, is an issue that has been researched extensively in the last decade. It's not unusual for kids and adults alike to struggle with hyperfixation from time to time.
Is hyperfixation only for ADHD?
People who do not have ADHD may also experience hyperfixation. However, almost every child and adult with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder knows what it feels like to hyperfocus on a certain task or project.
What does hyperfixation feel like?
Hyperfixation is being completely immersed in something, whether it be a video game or TV fandom culture. For example, some people are fixated on playing their favorite games for hours on end or are too focused on watching several episodes of the same show throughout the day. It feels like nothing else matters until you complete the task at hand.
Is hyperfixation a symptom of anxiety?
Yes, hyperfixation can be a symptom of anxiety. It may also be a way for you to combat this disorder by focusing your attention on something you value.
Is hyperfocus bad?
Hyperfocus is not entirely bad. It is an interesting phenomenon that has both positive and negative effects. People with hyperfixation can channel their focus on something productive, such as a school- and work-related activity. They may also hyperfocus on an interesting subject after completing a dull but important task.
Adults and children with ADHD or autism are especially susceptible to experiencing hyperfocus, but hyperfixation is not limited to them. This is why setting reminders, boundaries, and being supported by friends can be effective at managing the issue of hyperfixation.
When you are suffering from hyperfixation or you know someone who does, it’s best to consult a professional about it to identify the best course of action.
It’s important to have these consultations early so you can get help with treatment before the problem becomes more severe and harder to treat in later years.