Maladaptive daydreaming: Symptoms and management

This article will discuss what maladaptive daydreaming is, how to recognize it, and how to manage it.

Daydreaming is a regular part of daily life for many people. However, some experience frequent and intrusive daydreams that disrupt their everyday tasks.

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Daydreaming refers to the sensation of a wakeful indulgence in thoughts that are not related to a person’s immediate surroundings or activity.

They are often pleasant experiences, as a person might imagine or fantasize about engaging in a desired activity or achieving a goal.

Experts believe that daydreaming could be the product of a collection of brain regions known as the default mode network.

The default mode network is in a part of the brain’s cortex that demonstrates consistent activity patterns when the brain is otherwise in a state of rest.

In other words, brain activity in this network is at its highest when the brain is not attending to a task. Activity levels in the default mode network fall if the brain starts to pay attention to an external task or object.

The default mode network is important in producing conscious experiences, and some research has shown it to increase in activity when someone is daydreaming.

Although some have linked it to creativity and introspection, excessive daydreaming can interfere with an individual’s normal functioning at work, at school, or in relationships.

In 2002, Prof. Eli Somer first defined the phenomenon of maladaptive daydreaming. He believed that maladaptive daydreaming could develop as a result of trauma or abuse and act as a coping strategy that a person could use to escape reality.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition does not recognize maladaptive daydreaming as a diagnosable condition. A stronger evidence base is required before healthcare professionals can fully understand maladaptive daydreaming and treat it as a medical condition.

However, maladaptive daydreaming does occur, and it can have an adverse impact on an individual’s daily life.

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