Finding New Focus with ADD & Attention Problems

Identifying the causes of your attention problems may help you reclaim your self-confidence and learn how to slow down, recognize and organize your thoughts and emotions

Recognizing when attention problems are affecting your global functioning and productivity is key to improvement. Moving too quickly from one subject to another, or difficulty following through on tasks, may point to an attention disorder. Lack of attention can lead to difficulties in executive functioning, or even in some cases, executive functioning deficit disorder, leading to problems with organization, planning, and making decisions. A lack of focus and concentration can diminish your self-confidence and inhibit your professional life and personal relationships.
Attention problems including ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can be a part of your biology or temperament, or they can be related to anxiety about an event or circumstance in your life. They can also be side-effects of depression or stress. Or you may be going through a life transition or stressor that is keeping you from being able to focus and function normally.

The Causes of Attention Deficit Disorders

There isn’t a single cause of attention-related problems, any more than there is for anxiety or depression. It could be a primary diagnosis or it could be a side effect of something else. Certainly in our hyper-stimulated and information-saturated world there is a general decline of attention and concentration. With wearable devices, phones, tablets and the internet it’s no wonder if kids and adults both have trouble keeping on track. The increase of environmental toxins has been associated with the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders in infants and children. Genetics plays a role too. Regardless of what the cause of attention problems may be, attention is so important to every other aspect of mental and emotional functioning that when attention improves, everything else improves.

The Symptoms of Attention Disorder

Difficulty focusing and paying attention can cause both personal and social problems


  • Underestimating yourself or questioning your ability to reach personal goals
  • Loss of self-confidence that you can deliver and follow through
  • Taking longer to complete tasks than expected
  • Not completing tasks or projects
  • Changing jobs, projects, schools, or relationships frequently
  • Missing smalls things that snowball into big things, or procrastinating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Not enough focus; or too much focus – getting absorbed in something and losing track
  • Easily bored and frustrated, restless, over-revved and anxious
  • Frequently needing something new to engage interest
  • Problems with executive functioning, like planning, making decisions, or keeping track

With Others:

    • Others thinking that you are irresponsible, bored, inattentive, uncaring, etc., which may hinder professional success
    • Difficult reading others and understanding what they expect from you
    • Freezing up at the expectations and demands of others
  • Difficulty listening to others in conversation or being present
  • Impulsive, interrupting others, rushing through tasks
  • Feeling misunderstood as having personality issues or not being as intelligent as you are

Counseling and Treatment for Attention Problems

Depending on the reason for an individual’s problems, treatment may focus on skills, on medication, or both. Getting the appropriate diagnosis and, subsequently, the proper medication may bring significant relief. However, problems involving attention reach into so many areas of personal, professional, and social functioning that simply taking medications seldom resolves the diversity of challenges facing those who live with them.

attention deficit disorderIn addition, making lifestyle changes can be very beneficial. A health-oriented lifestyle involving sufficient sleep, exercise and healthy diet can go a long way to improving mental well-being, especially for those who find themselves caught up in the ever-busy world.

Taking care of relationships is also important. Social awareness, empathy and emotional intelligence are vital to positive relationships, which in turn feedback to positive self-esteem and self-confidence. Improving executive functioning – mental processes that help to regulate self-awareness, self-organization, motivation and planning – directly impact improvement in functioning, including in relationships.

Dr. Wu helps patients to develop and improve functions that are often compromised along with attention. These may include:

  • Helping you to identify and understand the nature of your attention-related problems
  • Pinpointing how it is affecting your functioning, at work, in relationships, and personally
  • Helping you to regulate the highs and lows of your emotions and thoughts, which can disrupt your focus and concentration
  • Helping you to identify ways your relationships may be affected, and how to improve them
  • Slowing down and breaking down your cognitive and emotional experiences
  • Identifying which executive functions may be affected and developing skills to improve them
  • Referring you to other professionals for diagnosis, medication, or treatment as needed

In short, psychotherapy can be valuable in helping you to comprehend the breadth and complexity of attention-related problems and learning the skills to address them.

Contact Dr. Wu

to schedule an office visit or a free 10-15 minute phone consultation