Have you ever become so immersed in something that hours and hours pass without you realizing it? Perhaps it was binge-watching an entire season of a TV show in one weekend. Maybe it was playing a video game from dusk till dawn and realizing it’s time to dress for work or putting music on a loop till you’ve heard the whole album thirty times. These are examples of hyperfixation, a psychological strategy the brain often resorts to when it needs to escape stress, anxiety, or mental health symptoms. In addiction treatment, dual diagnosis treatment is often required when hyperfixation is a symptom of an underlying mental health disorder that complicates or interacts with substance use.
However, hyperfixation is not the same as an addiction for a range of reasons. To learn more about hyperfixation, addiction treatment, mental health treatment, or co-occurring disorders, contact TruHealing Centers. We are glad to help, answer questions, and discuss how dual diagnosis treatment may be right for you.
Signs of Hyperfixation
Hyperfixation is a complete immersion in a task or topic. We often hear of hyperfixation among those with ADHD or autism, but anyone can experience it. Hyperfixation is not addiction in that it comes in waves or phases. You might become hyperfixated on a particular game app on your phone and play it constantly for a while, but not to the point that you stop sleeping, working, or eating.
Some examples of common hyperfixations include:
- TV series
- Video games
When you realize you are “going down a rabbit hole,” you may be hyperfixating on something as a coping mechanism.
Hyperfixation vs. Addiction
Addiction is not an escape; it is dependence. Whether chemical or experiential, it is an addiction if you cannot go without it for even brief interludes. If someone is addicted to a video game, for example, lack of access will cause distress, anxiety, aggression, and often physical symptoms.
By contrast, hyperfixation is characterized by periods when interest in the experience, book, game, or whatever someone was fixated on is completely gone. The interest may be sparked tomorrow or next month, but there is no withdrawal. If you tend to become hyperfixated on things, you may find it more likely on days when you are under extreme stress or your anxiety symptoms are peaking. That being said, frequent episodes of hyperfixation can become problematic if they interfere with the rest of one’s life.
Signs of Addiction
With an addiction, the need to use drugs or alcohol is always present. If you are trying to decide if you are addicted or hyperfixated, ask yourself:
- Do you become listless, depressed, or tired when the activity is not available?
- Are you only able to feel good (content, upbeat, lively) when participating in your experience?
- Do you feel angry or anxious when you cannot participate in your favorite distraction?
- Are you consumed with thoughts of and the desire for your activity when not engaged in it?
- Does your activity get in the way of your responsibilities, relationships, family commitments, health/fitness/wellness?
Explore Mental Health Assistance at TruHealing Centers
Whether you are experiencing hyperfixation as a coping mechanism for mental health challenges or suffering from addiction to something, some treatments can help. Mental health treatment for anxiety or depression may alleviate your need to escape via binging on activities that distract your mind. Addiction treatment can be as effective for experiential addictions as it is for substances.
Your mental health is vital to your wellness. At TruHealing Centers, we have both mental health treatment and recovery programs. We can help. Find out how by calling 833.631.0525 or completing our online form.