The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes “Concentration” as:
- the ability to give your attention or thought to a single object or activity : the ability to concentrate
- the act of giving your attention to a single object or activity
- a large amount of something in one place
Difficulty concentrating is a normal and periodic occurrence for most people. Tiredness and emotional stress can cause concentration problems in most people. Hormonal changes, such as those experienced during menopause or pregnancy, can also affect how we think and concentrate. Concentration problems, when present to an excessive degree, are also characteristic of certain physical and psychological conditions.
The hallmark condition associated with difficulty concentrating is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that has been increasingly diagnosed in both children and adults in recent years. Rare conditions that affect the brain and some emotional problems as well as endocrinologic disturbances can also influence an individual’s cognitive functions and thus impair concentration.Concentration difficulties may be long-term, established conditions, as in the case of attention deficit disorder, or they may arise as a result of illness or another event.
Medical conditions that are known to cause difficulties with concentration include a variety of chronic illnesses, sleep apnea, heavy metal poisoning, infections, pain syndromes, traumatic brain injury, and stroke. Cognitive problems that can be associated with concentration difficulties include attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, vision disorders, delirium, and dementia. Psychological conditions that can interfere with concentration include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder (alternating periods of depression and elevated mood), emotional trauma, and stress.Depending upon the cause, concentration difficulties may resolve with appropriate treatment.
Any changes in concentration abilities that do not have a directly identifiable cause or that last more than a day or two should be evaluated by a medical professional without delay. Seek prompt medical carefor new onset, progressive, or worsening difficulties with concentration. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if the symptoms come on suddenly or if they are associated with head trauma, changes in level of consciousness or alertness, the worst headache of your life, high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), loss of sensation, seizures, or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations or delusions.
If you want stronger muscles, lift weights. And if you want a stronger brain (one that’s able to maintain concentration and avoid distractions) give your brain a workout of its own.As you make time to exercise your body, make time to exercise your brain. Set aside 15 or 20 minutes every day to complete a crossword puzzle or other brain game, and see if it helps you improve concentration and your ability to screen out distractions.
Cognitive training (brain training) is anything that intentionally targets the mental functions of the brain. Think of it as exercise for the brain to make it stronger. Cognitive training is a field that is growing quickly as we attempt to reduce our risk for dev