Can’t Stay Focused. Part 1

Thursday, April 26, 2012 13:13
Posted in category Psychological

Q.I’m a 31-year-old man who has trouble focusing on any one thing. I can’t hold a job for more than six months at a time. This is very frustrating for me as well as my spouse, although I’m never unemployed for more than two weeks. I work in a professional field where pay is adequate. We have three small children, ranging from two months to seven years old. I don’t drink or use drugs, but I do smoke and have trouble gaining weight. I lie awake at night thinking of death, God, all kinds of things, even childhood memories that are best forgotten. I truly love my wife and kids and want the best for them. Counselors just confuse me even more than I already am.


A. I can’t make specific recommendations about your situation without talking with you personally and obtaining more information about the nature of what’s disturbing your ability to focus and follow through on things. But I’ll mention some thoughts that come to mind in response to your description of your plight, which you can explore or discard as you wish.

One important question is whether your jobs end because you’ve quit them (and if so, why) or whether you’re fired (and if so, why). Do you have trouble accomplishing work tasks? If so, perhaps psychological and/or neuropsychological testing could shed some light on interfering factors that might be addressed. Depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress symptoms (possibly related to those “childhood memories that are best forgotten”) can all interfere with attention and concentration, for instance. (So can alcohol or drug abuse, but you’ve said that’s not the issue here.) There’s also the possibility of attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), a somewhat controversial diagnosis (many professionals think it’s being overdiagnosed, and some think many or all of its symptoms could be explained by anxiety, posttraumatic stress, etc.). However, many people find ADD/ADHD diagnosis and treatment helpful.

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