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Difficulty concentrating

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Everyone knows one of those days when concentrating becomes more difficult. But, do you regularly struggle to concentrate and are easily distracted? Concentration problems can affect your daily life and work. Learn more about why you have trouble focusing and maintaining attention and what you can do about it.

When do I experience difficulty concentrating?

When you experience difficulty concentrating, you become easily distracted. You find it difficult to focus on one task or activity for an extended period of time. It occurs in both adults and children, although the underlying causes may differ.

 

When you are tired or under pressure, it is harder for everyone to concentrate. In this case, symptoms are often temporary and concentration improves once calm returns. In other cases, there may be more going on.

 

What makes you unable to concentrate?

Difficulty with concentrating arises from a variety of causes. You can experience problems with focus when you have mental health issues, but also without an established diagnosis. By understanding the underlying cause, you can improve your concentration or get targeted care.


Several causes are:

 

  • Stress
    When you suffer from stress, your body makes more cortisol. More cortisol in your brain can decrease your concentration. For example, you may experience more stress from relationship problems, worrying about your children or from work.

 

  • Lack of sleep
    Your brain needs a good night’s sleep to function properly. When you sleep poorly or restlessly, it can affect your concentration.

 

  • Multitasking
    When you perform multiple tasks simultaneously, it can reduce your focus.

 

  • Mental disorders
    Mental symptoms may be the underlying cause. Possible underlying mental symptoms are:

 

  • Hormonal changes
    Hormonal changes may cause a temporary disturbance in memory. For example, pregnancy or menopause.

 

Symptoms

The characteristics of being unable to concentrate vary by person and age.

 

Symptoms in adults:

 

  • Lack of focus
    You find it difficult to keep your attention on one task or activity for an extended period of time. Especially with tasks that you perceive as boring or that are always the same.
  • Forgetful
    You have difficulty remembering information.
  • Easily distracted
    You are easily distracted by internal or external stimuli. For example, in a busy environment you have difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty keeping an overview
    You experience problems with organizing and keeping an overview. This makes it difficult for you to plan things or to organize tasks and projects.

 

⮕ Also read more about the symptoms in ADHD and ADD.

 

Symptoms in children:

Some symptoms belong to a child’s age stage.

 

  • Lack of concentration
    A child is easily distracted and has difficulty keeping attention on schoolwork or other tasks.
  • Forgetful
    You notice that a child finds it difficult to remember instructions and information.
  • Chaotic
    A child appears chaotic and experiences difficulty completing schoolwork.
  • Poor school performance
    When a child has difficulty concentrating, it can negatively affect school performance.

 

How to concentrate better?

You can take a number of actions yourself as a solution to concentrate better.

 

  • Create a quiet environment
    A quiet and tidy environment reduces distractions. At work, a tidy workspace helps you concentrate better.

 

  • Work with time blocks
    Following up time blocks of concentrated work with short breaks will help you stay productive and improve your concentration. When this goes well, you can build up the time you spend concentrating. There are several focus apps or you can use a timer.

 

  • Reduce distractions
    Turn off notifications from devices. This causes you to experience fewer distractions.

 

  • Establish a healthy sleep routine
    A healthy sleep routine can improve your concentration and alertness. This includes getting enough sleep, waking up infrequently and having a consistent sleep schedule. A restful bedroom helps with this.

 

  • Eat healthy nutrients
    Nutrients rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals can support your brain function and concentration.

 

  • Get enough physical activity
    Try to get enough exercise daily. Short walks or physical exercises can already improve your concentration.

 

Help with concentrating

Are you unable to improve your concentration on your own? When symptoms persist and they affect your daily life, professional help may be advisable.

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    Would you like to know more about how to improve your concentration? Or are you in doubt about when to see a psychologist? Feel free to contact a psychologist by calling 085-1308900. Or contact us online and a psychologist will look at your question for help with you.

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    At iPractice, you will work with 2 psychologists. Treatment consists of both online contact and regular consultation room sessions at one of iPractice’s locations. Or find out more information about the intake and treatment process at iPractice.

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    CBT and skills training are the most common therapies for difficulties with concentrating. On average, treatment lasts 3 to 6 months. In which you will have 8 sessions with a psychologist and online counseling in between.

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    If there is an underlying cause in which a diagnosis is established according to the DSM-5 guidelines, most health insurance companies will reimburse treatment with a referral letter from the family doctor. Read more about reimbursements and costs.

publish-icon Published - 4 Jun 2024
Maarten has extensive experience with concentration problems, trauma-related complaints and anxiety complaints. He is happy to work with you to explore where you get stuck. In his treatment he deploys among others: CBT, ACT and schema-focused interventions.
GZ-Psychologist Maarten Bonestroo

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