Q: Problems concentrating aren't new to me, but recently it's
become a serious issue at work. As hard as I try, I keep procrastinating and
missing important deadlines, and my boss is getting pretty fed up. I also have
trouble remembering important assignments. What's wrong with me?
Dr. Donnica: There's a big difference between true memory loss and being distracted
or forgetful. Using a well-organized notepad with a to-do list should help in
either case. The most common explanations for your situation are the most easily
overlooked: insufficient sleep and simply having too much to do! Many medications
(both prescription and over-the-counter) may also impact your focus and recall;
alcohol and recreational drugs can have this effect as well. There are also
numerous medical conditions, which can impact memory and focus from depression
to hormonal transitions (including pregnancy and perimenopause) to neurologic
conditions such as brain tumors. If your symptoms aren't solved by using
a notepad, a trip to your doctor is in order.
One question to ask your doctor is whether you may have Adult Attention-Deficit
Disorder (Adult ADD). In adults, ADD symptoms are similar to those seen in children:
inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. However, hyperactivity symptoms
generally decrease with age, or they resemble restlessness or fidgetiness (such
as the persistent pencil tapper or foot tapper). Common Adult ADD symptoms include
those you've described: lack of focus, disorganization, restlessness,
difficulty finishing projects, as well as losing things. These symptoms not
only interfere with work, but may also interfere with other relationships. The
good news is that there are treatments available. A screening questionnaire
for Adult ADD is available at www.adultadd.com.
You can complete this and bring it with you when you consult your physician.
Created: 11/24/2004  - Donnica Moore, M.D.