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Decreasing Attention Span & Focus

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Hi. I’ve always had issues with attention and focus as a child, but I’ve never noticed it and managed to get myself throughout childhood and adolescence without much trouble or difficulty.

However, in the past few years, and particularly the past couple of years, my ability to focus (on studying and other activities requiring sustained mental concentration) have been decreasing at an alarming rate.

I feel that my mind is driven by a “motor” that constantly requires stimulation. I would sit down to study and my thoughts would immediately begin to wander. Suppressing those thoughts would be a near-impossible task for me. It has gotten to the point that I would take roughly twelve (or more) hours to read something that a typical individual could do so in less than forty-five minutes. I have to intentionally drain my cellphone/laptop battery so that they do not distract me, although even those measures fail to maintain my focus.

Since the things I’m studying in school are memorization-heavy and require significant recall abilities, this issue has taken a heavy toll on my academics.

Is there anything I could do to alleviate this issue? I do not wish to use any medications nor do I think I need the consult of a physician.

Thank you! (From Canada)

Decreasing Attention Span & Focus

Answered by on -


  While it would not be possible nor ethical for me to make a diagnosis, I would say you may want to rule out the possibility of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as the symptoms seem to suggest this is at least something to rule out. I’d highly recommend you connect with a licensed clinical psychologist qualified to deliver a battery of tests that can determine your strengths and possible weaknesses. More than that, these evaluations typically recommend treatment options. For more information you may want to read our article at

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

Decreasing Attention Span & Focus

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Decreasing Attention Span & Focus. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 30 Sep 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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