I Can’t Seem to Focus Anymore. Is Something Wrong with Me?

Hi, I'm hoping you can help me with my situation. I am finding it harder and harder to focus. Whether I am at work, reading, or even talking on the phone or watching TV, my mind frequently wanders to something else and I totally lose track of whatever it was I was supposed to be concentrating on. This happens every day, and it seems to be happening with increasing frequency. Is this possibly due to some mental or brain disorder? I want to get this figured out. I find that too often I have to go back and re-read something I read, rewind the TV, or act like I've been listening and say something nondescript to make it seem like I am engaged. What's wrong with me? Thanks. —Out of Focus
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Dear Out of Focus,

That sounds very frustrating. It also sounds like it might be causing you some anxiety, which might be perpetuating the attentional issues you are experiencing. Does this ring true? If so, next time you feel this happening you might want to try taking a few deep breaths, direct your focus to your breathing and then gently remind yourself to focus on the task at hand.

I find myself wondering if your mind is often going to the same thing when it wanders. We all go through challenging times in life that can make it difficult to focus on what we are trying to do in the present moment. For example, if you’ve recently experienced the loss of a relationship, you may find your mind wandering to that person, to memories of time spent together, to sadness about an unknown future, to the fear of loneliness.

If, however, this issue seems to have no connection to a recent loss or transition in your life, I might wonder if you are feeling bored or restless with where you are in your life right now. Sometimes a difficulty focusing can be an indicator that it is time to shake things up a bit.

It might be helpful to you to partner with a therapist to try to sort through some of these things and see if you can develop an understanding of how this came to be a part of your life. If you do choose to meet with a therapist, it might be a good idea to try to find someone who has some expertise in attentional issues. While it is possible that the issues you are describing are a natural part of some sort of a transition in your life or an indicator that a change is needed, it is also possible that something else is going on. Perhaps there is an undiagnosed attentional issue that could be identified and worked on or treated. A therapist with expertise in attentional issues will be able to help you distinguish between these possibilities and help you move to a place of greater peace and focus.

If you haven’t done so already, I also recommend seeing a doctor to rule out any possible medical causes.

Best wishes,
Sarah

Sarah Noel
Sarah Noel, MS, LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in working with people who are struggling through depression, anxiety, trauma, and major life transitions. She approaches her work from a person-centered perspective, always acknowledging the people she works with as experts on themselves. She is honored and humbled on a daily basis to be able to partner with people at such critical points in their unique journeys.
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  • Johnny

    Johnny

    November 14th, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    I frequently feel this way but I find that if I can take a little down time for me, and then that really helps me get my mind refocused and on the task at hand. We might not be able to do this all the time but at least a few times a week try to dedicate to things that you enjoy, and not those things that you feel like you have to do. If you can do this, it might get you to a better place mentally so that your focus will be even sharper and more in tune with the things that need to be accomplished.

  • natasha

    natasha

    November 16th, 2014 at 5:38 AM

    could be depression… there are numerous ways that this can manifest itself.. think that I would have it checked out

  • caree

    caree

    November 17th, 2014 at 3:58 AM

    Perhaps this is something that you have always lived with but have in the past been able to manage it a little bit better than what you are feeling that you are able to do right now. That’s understandable, there could be things going on beneath the surface that you haven’t dealt with or that maybe you don’t even understand right now. I think that it is clear that you recognize that there is something a little unusual going on with you right now and that you may need some help with that so I know that this alone is a great first step.

  • Layla T.

    Layla T.

    November 20th, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    It would be great if you could work on finding something that really piqued your interest, that you may be more likely to focus on and that could help to get you going back in the right direction.

    I know that it may sound simplistic but sometimes it can be all about finding that one thing that can bring you joy again in your life. You do have to be willing to work on discovering what that thing may be, but I think that if you could then you would find that there is a little more motivation and direction there than you thought.

  • Sarah

    Sarah

    January 11th, 2016 at 11:49 AM

    I think that you should try taking some time for yourself to figure out what’s bugging you. This is however, in many cases, easier said then done. Talking to a loved one about things could also help. I don’t think it’s healthy to live like this. I have the same problem, so I can relate. Best of luck to ya!

  • nygrump

    nygrump

    March 24th, 2016 at 8:00 AM

    Maybe technosociety is the problem. Your body is an unapporved scientific experiement. The techofetishists have inundated our environment with electromagnetic pollution, unparalleled in human history – the science I look at tells me this e-fog is dangerous pollution that can interfere with health.

  • Dave p.

    Dave p.

    May 8th, 2016 at 6:41 PM

    It’s a virus. I have the exact problem. I was perfectly normal up until the age 29 (I’m 36 now). I remember the moment my vision changed instantly like it was yesterday. It happened rrrrrrright after I gave oral sex. I was driving home and it changed everything like something that like you can’t be really explained well enough for people to understand. I can barely talk to people cus my vision is really weird. Kind of like a pain or headache behind my right eye all the time. My nerves are different as well. Used to be cool calm and collective. Now eyes are always moving, sometimes my head shakes, and look/act tired. Had my eyes checked out and even my optic nerves and they were fine. Someone from that person invaded a part of my brain with a virus and seriously ruined my life. Can’t have a relationship. Don’t like to talk to anyone. I am not dressed or anything. If you saw my slide style and situation you would understand ando not say this guy’s just depressed or has anxiety… I always to to focus on things and although I can see it I can’t follow something with my eyes and see/comprehend what I’m looking/following. Did you find anything out since this is 2 years old??????? Please help me if you did. Dave

  • kunal

    kunal

    December 12th, 2016 at 2:25 AM

    @Dave p. if it had been a virus, then you would have had other symptoms also, like swollen meninges, fever, vomiting etc. I’m also having similar symptoms like yours ( I take anti depressants) and I’m freaked out!
    It all started 4 months back. I sometimes feel, it might be ADHD, but it can’t possibly be, because, I didn’t have any of those signs in childhood( I was a topper in my class always, and laser focused , always on the task at hand). Don’t know if it’s depression or something else but yeah this “not able to focus,and blurry vision suddenly” is less when I’m relaxed( like just woken from sleep). I don’t know if it’s because I’m thinking like it’s like this, but seriously, I was way better before. I’m afraid to watch movies( because I won’t be able to focus, and I’ll spoil the fun) anyone with a solution??

  • E

    E

    December 1st, 2018 at 12:51 PM

    Dave, I have the EXACT same issue, I have always been a huge sponge for new intellectual material, and one day I remember waking up and feeling “off”, I’ve gone from reading everyday without fail to straining and struggling to read one paragraph, I’m constantly tired and fatigued. my hands haven’t stopped shaking for the past year or so, and I struggle so much to self motivate (I used to get up and try something new at least every other day).
    if you have found out anything about this please get back to me!
    regards, E

  • wendi

    wendi

    August 8th, 2016 at 12:44 PM

    The one thing doctors rarely ask about and ignore in favor of the “you’re depressed or anxious” answer: What are you eating? Are symptoms worse on some days? I’ve had to totally overhaul my diet from what I ate when I was younger. More protein and fat, fewer carbs. I still notice that when I eat too many carbs I can have focusing problems for a day or two until my system processes it and I’m back to my “new normal” diet. Try eating low-ish carb and very healthy for one week (no sweets). Just for ONE WEEK. If you notice a difference, that tells you something. And then–if you’re willing to consider diet a health tool that YOU control–you can quit handing money to doctors.

  • satheesh K

    satheesh K

    August 11th, 2016 at 3:49 AM

    my mind searching other people’s what to do and if he watched me or not..? and I am imagin all people’s are talking about me. how to stop that imagin. .some times I do brilliant work and some time do stupid work. .

  • Josh

    Josh

    September 8th, 2016 at 4:44 AM

    Hi thx for sharing your minds! I have more or less the same problem that I am not able to concentrate when I work and I am always thinking about something else. I heared about nootropicplus, a natural brain booster … does someone know how they work?

  • Ann

    Ann

    September 18th, 2016 at 4:30 PM

    I have a similar problem and I am sure this is due to anxiety as I have muscle twitching as well. I find giving myself a massage, especially my arms and legs really helps. Hope this helps.

  • amir

    amir

    October 16th, 2016 at 11:58 AM

    all i know is i cant leave with these things in my mind
    i dont know im thinking to what and i cant explain it to yht other people
    but im always wandering. honestly i live 5 hours out of 24 hours in reality.

  • Vartika

    Vartika

    November 2nd, 2016 at 11:17 AM

    i can’t understand what’s happening with me
    after discussing with my benchmate i came to know excatly what is happening with me…..she said me that you are not enjoying the place the moment where you are……it’s lack of concentration or nothing……but I don’t think so..

  • ABDUL G.

    ABDUL G.

    January 22nd, 2017 at 2:34 AM

    DEAR SIR,
    I AM SUFFERING MENTAL DEPRESSION AND ALWAYS NOT INTERESTED TO WORK AND FEEL LAZY AND WANT TO SIT IDLE . MORE OVER, I CANT CONCENTRATE THE WORK/TALK/TV PROGRAM OF WAHT EVER ANYTHING.
    EVEN I CAN`T READY NEWS PAPER BOOKS OFFICE DOCUMENT ETC.

    REGARDS

  • GoodTherapy Admin

    GoodTherapy Admin

    January 22nd, 2017 at 1:00 PM

    Dear Abdul G.,

    If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage, https://www.goodtherapy.org/, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Ahmed A.

    Ahmed A.

    February 5th, 2017 at 1:33 AM

    One possible reason could be sleep deprivation, get enough sleep so your brain has enough energy to focus. Another possibility can be the lack of Iron which causes tiredeness and fatigue so you cant focus on certain things properly.

  • Douglas N.

    Douglas N.

    July 27th, 2017 at 12:22 PM

    Wow, I am losing my focusing when read to the 3rd comments. I just got to stop now. I am feeling losing my mind. Sorry

  • Rajendra

    Rajendra

    August 1st, 2017 at 12:33 AM

    Hi Sufferers,
    I am sharing my experience that my wife faced after two months of delivery. As doctor said it is because of hormones, specially newly mother may suffer the kinds of illness. She went through all the doctors psychiatric etc. consumed different kind of drug as doctors prescript.
    passed couple of month no progress seems, than one of my friend suggested to go for meditation, Yoga, Zumba focus more on exercise. I did the same and we found the positive result. 1st do the basic Zuma Dance, 2nd Yoga, than meditation you will feel so tired you feel lazy for some time. then ask some to tell the short story or some news or something. at that time may be because of you tiredness you will feel sleepy and see slowly slowly you will start focusing on… you can sit on front of TV play the TV and see your focus will come better.
    Thanks, Prey for your speedy recovery.

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