Zoning out can also result from an underlying mental health condition, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Anxiety, and depression.
Zoning out is one of the more common warning signs of ADHD in both children and adults. Zoning out in conversations with family, or meetings at work are a reflection of attention issues, which is a leading sign in the diagnosis of ADHD.
Anxiety symptoms can show up as rapid thoughts, overwhelming fears, or agitated/nervous behavior. With that said, anxiety can sometimes be experienced in ways that feel like the opposite. People who have chronically high levels of anxiety sometimes have the experience of “zoning out” or “numbing out.”
In sum, children with generalized anxiety disorders will have poor focus because their minds are dominated by anxious, worrisome thoughts. Their anxiety can permeate all academic assignments. In contrast, an inattentive ADHD child's mind can be quiet, but easily distracted, which results in their inattention.
It's not uncommon for people with anxiety to be misdiagnosed with ADHD, or vice versa.
The presence of anxiety can make it more likely for ADHD to be missed during diagnosis. This is due to several reasons. ✦ Firstly, anxiety symptoms may mask ADHD symptoms as anxiety can lower impulsivity.
ADHD and Anxiety Disorders
This is often accompanied by feelings of restlessness, being "keyed up" or constantly on edge, problems with concentration (or mind going blank), sleep disturbances, muscle tension, irritability, fatigue, and feeling overwhelmed.
However, it can also lead to potential misinterpretation of symptoms. Take, for example, ADHD. While most people associate ADHD with hyperactivity and impulsivity, it can also manifest in more subtle ways, such as through intrusive thoughts and overthinking.
Certain attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications can help treat a person's co-occurring anxiety, while others, including Adderall, may worsen it.
More often than not, when a person over the age of 10 is diagnosed with ADHD, he or she complains of feeling anxious, depressed, or sad. Sometimes the complaint indicates a co-existing anxiety disorder or depression, but often, symptoms of anxiety and unhappiness arise because of untreated ADD.
While spacing out can simply be a sign that you are sleep deprived, stressed, or distracted, it can also be due to a transient ischemic attack, seizure, hypotension, hypoglycemia, migraine, transient global amnesia, fatigue, narcolepsy, or drug misuse.
Spacing out, zoning out, or blanking out are all ways to describe that experience of involuntarily losing your focus on a task. While attention fluctuates from moment to moment even in neurotypical brains, people with ADHD are prone to spacing out often.
With ADHD, a child or teen may have rapid or impulsive speech, physical restlessness, trouble focusing, irritability, and, sometimes, defiant or oppositional behavior.
Differences in emotions in people with ADHD can lead to 'shutdowns', where someone is so overwhelmed with emotions that they space out, may find it hard to speak or move and may struggle to articulate what they are feeling until they can process their emotions.
It's one of the challenging or explosive behaviors we see in those who have ADHD. Sometimes it appears as poor self-esteem, yelling, rage, or tears. But sometimes the challenging behavior is your own in reaction to your spouse, child, sibling, or friend who has ADHD: “Why did they not hear me? Now I'm the angry one.”
Start with the ADHD
If the family does not have a preference about which condition should be addressed first, many clinicians initially treat the ADHD. This is because it makes one of the major components of anxiety treatment — cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — more fruitful.
The Final Word on Ritalin and Anxiety
While it is easy to imagine that a drug that seems to "calm" overexcited children would be great for your anxiety, the truth is that this drug is designed to stimulate alertness and therefore runs the risk of worsening your anxiety rather than improving it.
There's no simple test to determine whether you or your child has ADHD, but your specialist can make an accurate diagnosis after a detailed assessment. The assessment may include: a physical examination, which can help rule out other possible causes for the symptoms.
With ADHD, that part of the brain is always turned on, which causes the endless look of intrusive thoughts to replay in your head like a bad song. In short, when you have ADHD and your Default Mode Network region is wired neurodivergent, it makes your mind wander on a continuous loop.
Executive functions have other roles which affect how someone thinks. In people with ADHD, these executive dysfunctions impact thinking in numerous ways. People with ADHD don't really think faster than people without it, but it can sometimes seem like they do. People with ADHD do think differently though, in a sense.
People with autism, engineers, and those with ADHD tend to say they think in pictures; teachers, in words, and when a word-thinker hears that there are those who think not in words, but pictures, they often are flabbergasted, taken aback, and have a hard time bending their mind around this alien thought form.
Type 6: Ring Of Fire ADHD
People with Ring of Fire ADHD typically show patterns of high brain activity and have trouble “shutting off” their minds, which can make thoughts and emotions overwhelming. Stimulant medications alone may make ADHD symptoms significantly worse.
Sometimes, anxiety can occur independently of ADHD. Other times, it can be as a result of living with ADHD. A person who has ADHD and misses a work deadline or forgets to study for an important exam can become stressed and worried. Even the fear of forgetting to do such important tasks may cause them anxiety.