Attention Deficit

Attention Deficit

Of all my symptoms of depression the one that is causing me most frustration is the loss of concentration: I am finding it difficult to focus on anything for any length of time.

I normally have very good, even exceptional powers of concentration. If I am interested in what I am doing I can happily spend hours at a time working and the time passes almost without notice: I readily enter a flow state where there feels to be little conscious effort.

But for the past five or so weeks I have found this impossible. The calm mind that I require is a distant memory and in its place is a roiling tangle of intrusive thoughts and feelings, muddying the usually limpid waters of my consciousness.

At work I am attempting to develop a new software feature that requires clear thought to achieve its design: I am making little progress. My analytical thinking is barely functional. I strongly dislike the feeling of incapacity that arises from my knowledge that only a couple of months ago I would not have encountered such obstacles.

It was uncomfortable to admit to my project manager that I was struggling: I suffer from perfectionism that affects many of the things I do. But my traitorous brain refuses to obey my commands: it is not functioning correctly. Even writing this is more difficult than usual. I sincerely hope that the medication I am taking will prove effective. I do not relish the thought of enduring this for much longer.

11 thoughts on “Attention Deficit

  1. Yeah, the loss of concentration was a big issue for me too when I quit smoking. When I can’t concentrate on anything, not even things that fascinate me, I don’t feel like myself at all.


    1. That’s a good way to put it: not feeling like yourself. Because I certainly don’t feel like myself lately. I’m struggling to find much enthusiasm for things I usually enjoy such as programming, crosswords, even reading!


  2. I’ve gone through periods of time in my life where I have an absolute inability to focus my concentration on anything, including things I usually enjoy immensely. Until recently, I hadn’t really been able to figure out what caused those times. Since my diagnosis, and subsequent reading and discussions with my therapists, I understand that those periods have likely been related to depression, as you describe so well. My challenge recently has been to try and identify what combination of circumstances and events might have led to previous periods of un-recognized depression, in an effort to head off the feelings of depression I’m experiencing now.

    In past episodes, reviewed retrospectively, a “significant change” has been the most effective thing to allow me to begin concentrating again. A change in jobs, or moving to a new home, or taking up a new activity. Since I’d rather not change jobs or move, and I haven’t much interest in trying something new, I’ve been trying to refocus my mind on things that I used to enjoy as a hobby, but which have fallen by the wayside.

    I definitely agree with autisticook’s expression of “not feeling like myself,” and I would add that when I get that way, I often feel “stuck,” like I just don’t see a way out of a myriad of mundane things, none of which I’m able to concentrate on effectively enough to complete it to my (also perfectionist) senses. I find myself trying to get up enough energy and focus to get something done, getting frustrated that I’m not able to do so, then moving on to another thing, which results in the same sense of frustration and lack of task completion. Round and round, bouncing from one task to another to another, and my thoughts ricocheting around from one to another to another in an order completely unrelated to anything. Definitely frustrating.


    1. Loss of interest in activities that you usually find pleasurable is one of the key symptoms of depression, and it can help if you are able to identify triggers so that you can mitigate their effects.

      I do have a way forward at least but it’s not a short-term solution, so I guess I’m likely stuck with this for a little while longer. I just got to be patient.


  3. All the best. Dodgy advice below.
    To a degree, I see what you mean: for me, when there are alternatives, concentration is harder. Can you make yourself ‘appointments’ for other things, and ‘forget’ them until then?
    Are suggestions what you need?! 🙂
    I find that the afternoon is much better when I’ve been out for a . walk at lunchtime, especially if it’s in company and any conversation is not about work.


  4. Very recognizable.
    I thought it was very disturbing when I couldn’t even really read Hitchhikers or Harry Potter for more than a few pages. It’s one thing to lose concentration at work, but fiction? But like you I also really liked my work, and it felt really bad not to be able to do it well anymore.
    I basically define myself as a thinking person. Thinking is what I do all the time, I feel that my good brains are the only thing that give me any value. When that doesn’t work the way it ‘should’, or it used to, it’s just horrible. As autisticook says, you don’t feel like yourself.
    I really hope you will start to feel better.


  5. Well there you go, you know what the problem is, so let’s talk about some techniques which helps to calm our senses in such circumstances, am not an expert but I have seen these things work, get your self fish aquarium and spend some time sitting or laying where you can view it, better if you can get it with some colour changing aquarium, or you can get separate colour changing bubbles tube lamp. These really help people, and at the same time or some other time try sitting in peace and speak to GOD , because no matter what faith some one follows, knowing and believing there is a GOD who would listen to what we have to say takes away a lot of worries. You sure will overcome this and be yourself again. xx


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