What Is Maladaptive Daydreaming?
Most people experience some form of discomfort throughout the course of their lives. You might realize you purchased the wrong shoe size. The pain and discomfort could prompt you to yank them off your feet. Trying to avoid pain and discomfort is a natural response. What if traveling inside your mind into a daydream was a natural response to life’s uncomfortable situations?
Psychologists Daniel T. Gilbert and Matthew A. Killingsworth claim that daydreaming may be a sign of unhappiness. However, maladaptive daydreaming, or daydreaming that interferes with people’s real lives, is often not recognized as an authentic psychiatric disorder. There is not a great deal of evidence linking maladaptive daydreaming points with mental illness.
But many maladaptive daydreamers might disagree. This experience might interrupt daily lives just as much as psychiatric disorders. Maladaptive types of daydreaming or chronic daydreaming are forms of escapism. Maladpative daydreaming is a coping mechanism that the mind uses to run away from problems in real life. The brain is very powerful while the mind can be timid. The mind might feel as if it has to rearrange itself until it can handle the present situation at a later time. Adaptive brains might be better equipped to respond to different situations in healthier ways.
Adaptive behaviors are behaviors that allow a person to adapt to life situations. They are healthy behaviors that help us swing at the curveballs that life sometimes throws at us. These behaviors may include using positive thinking when dealing with a stressful situation or taking action to address the situation.
A maladaptive behavior is a behavior that stops people from adapting to situations that are bothering them. Some people might engage in maladaptive behaviors such as abusing drugs or alcohol, while others might turn to other maladaptive behaviors such as maladaptive daydreaming. For example, your car might be under repair and unavailable for a month or two. Adaptive behaviors include enjoying the thought of walking to work or calling a friend for a ride to work. Some of the best rehab centers in California aim to help drug and alcohol addicts turn away from maladaptive behaviors.
Maladaptive Daydreaming Symptoms and Treatment
Maladaptive daydreamers may find themselves losing time, sleep, and sometimes money. Maladaptive daydreams are more than average daydreams. Daydreaming about what you have for lunch is not a maladaptive daydream. A maladaptive daydream is actually a series of daydreams.
Think of it as a collection of stories or a story that never ends. It will take twists and turns but the main character always remains the same: you. People can spend hours, days, or years using their imaginations as coping mechanisms. According to Healthline, some of the symptoms of maladaptive daydreams include:
Vivid daydreams with their own characters, settings, plots, and other detailed, story-like features
- Daydreams triggered by real-life events
- Difficulties completing everyday tasks
- Overwhelming desires to continue daydreaming
- Repetitive movements, facial expressions, whispering or talking while daydreaming
- Daydreaming for lengthy periods (for many minutes to hours)
As intense as maladaptive daydreams are, there are ways to address them. Avoiding triggers that can spiral into daydreams is helpful advice. For example, you might find yourself beginning to daydream while listening to music. Music is a common trigger for maladaptive daydreamers so you might want to be aware of what influences your thoughts.
Living your life entirely inside your mind might not be the healthiest way to live, and it is a life you do not have to live.
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