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Mind Matters | Attention issues

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

Mind Matters | Attention issues

I’m a 19-year-old student, and I have a very short attention span. I zone out mid conversation and forget what was being said after a while. Sometimes I’m doing alright, sometimes I’m hyperactive, and sometimes I just don’t feel like doing anything. I have extreme mood swings. I try focusing on a certain task but then I get distracted easily. Is this just laziness or is it a symptom of ADHD? What should I do?—L.I.

Answered by Aditya Dangol, counseling psychologist, Happy Minds

First, I want to start by appreciating your self-awareness, which is a major step for further improving your mental state. The frustration is palpable and it indicates that you might be quite overwhelmed and confused, which is completely valid. One thing I can let you know for sure is that the symptoms you have mentioned are definitely not of laziness, but it might be associated with ADHD or anxiety. There are a few things you can try on your own to reduce those symptoms.

With issues like mood swings, lack of concentration, and forgetfulness, it’s usually helpful if you make a schedule. That will structure your day and make you feel less anxious. You can set reminders for yourself in order to remember what you need to do. Include things that you love doing to avoid monotony. It doesn’t always have to be productive tasks, but things like watching a movie or going out for coffee could be on the list too. Reward yourself when you complete your daily tasks. It will motivate you to remain consistent with your routine.

Having a support system is very important in this situation. Surround yourself with people who love and care about you and don’t shy away from sharing how you feel. Getting your feelings validated can be a calming experience. If you are an introvert, it might be difficult for you to open up. In that case, take baby steps. Start by sharing something small and see how that goes. You will eventually find someone you are comfortable enough to talk to, but you need to start somewhere. 

If you know anyone who is going through the same issues, try asking him/her what he/she does in order to lessen those symptoms. Although the same thing might not work for you, it’s worth a try. Exercise is also beneficial in improving your mental health.

But only minimizing the symptoms isn’t enough. It’s necessary for you to get a proper diagnosis in order to find out what is causing the problems in the first place. For that, you will have to visit a mental health professional. There are a few tests that you will need to go through since your symptoms can be related with ADHD, anxiety, or can simply be caused by stress. I would not suggest self-diagnosis because you might not always come to the right conclusion. There are a lot of factors like family history and physical health that need to be analyzed.

Before visiting a psychologist, jot down your symptoms in a journal. This will help your therapist to understand what exactly you are going through, advise necessary tests, and come to a proper conclusion. Even if you get diagnosed with ADHD, don’t worry. It’s manageable. Follow the suggestions your therapist provides you, and you will be just fine.

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