How to Cure Maladaptive Daydreaming in 8 Ways

This time, I’m going to figure out how to cure maladaptive daydreaming.

Most people with maladaptive daydreaming have said these words to themselves at some point – sometimes on a daily basis. With each new day comes the hope that things will change and they will figure out how to cure maladaptive daydreaming.

They vow to do all the things that they’ve been putting off: the housework that needs to be done, the shopping trip they’ve dreaded for days, and the research paper that’s due by the end of the weekend.

This time, they promise ourselves, we’re finally going to stop daydreaming and actually get some work done.

But then the dishes pile up, the fridge is empty, and they’re still staring at a blank page.

No one likes to admit that they have a problem. But the truth is, despite how enjoyable daydreams can be, they can make our lives very unenjoyable when we can’t pull away from them. It is especially difficult to stop when the richness of the fantasy world makes the real world seem dull in comparison.

But as their work and school performance and personal relationships degrade, people with MD will eventually begin their desperate search for something – anything – that will curb the fantasies.

But based on what we know about maladaptive daydreaming, does a cure even exist?

In this article, we will touch on the main obstacles that stop people with MD from getting the treatment they need. You’ll also discover eight tips that you can use to cure maladaptive daydreaming and keep your fantasizing under control.

Barriers to Treatment

Out of all that we know about maladaptive daydreaming, most of it is largely a mystery. Researchers still do not yet understand the mechanisms behind the phenomenon.

For instance, is the condition rooted in biological causes? Should MD be considered an independent disorder, or a symptom of an existing one? How can we diagnose maladaptive daydreaming?

We will need more research to be done before we can fully answer these questions. Unfortunately, this also means that it may take years before we see an official treatment for MD.

Undeniably, none of this is good news for those of us who struggle to keep a leash on our daydreams. Without a treatment protocol in place, people with MD may not receive medical care adequate enough to address their issues.

Most physicians may mistake the condition for another mental illness, such fantasy-prone disorder, or they may downplay the severity of the symptoms. The person may leave their appointment no better off than when he or she arrived.

That said, there have been attempts to treat maladaptive daydreaming with medication. In one case study conducted by biopsychologist Dr. Cynthia Schupak, a patient with a long history of compulsive daydreaming experienced significant improvement when given fluvoxamine, an antidepressant drug that is used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder.1

In other cases, people have reported using other medications to cure maladaptive daydreaming symptoms, including Prozac, Adderall, Ritalin, and Strattera.

However, no clinical studies have proven these drugs to be effective in addressing MD.2

8 Strategies to Cure Maladaptive Daydreaming

So, how do we cure maladaptive daydreaming? In addition to medication, there are other methods you can use to manage your MD. Below, I’ve listed eight suggestions that you may find helpful. Experiment with one or a combination of them – whichever works best for your situation. (Note: for an infographic version of these strategies, click here.)

1. Keep your expectations realistic.

Don’t forget that daydreaming is a normal, healthy activity when it is in balance with other areas of your life.

If your goal is to never daydream again, then you are setting yourself up for failure. This is especially true if you are introverted and/or highly creative, both of which encourage you to spend time in your head. Make plans that you know you can stick to.

Instead of trying to cut it completely, consider reducing it to a more manageable level so that you can still pursue your interests and meet your life obligations.

2. Root out the underlying cause of your fantasizing.

At what point in your life did your maladaptive daydreaming first begin? Was there a specific event that acted as a trigger? Are there certain moods or situations where you daydream the most, and why?

These are just a few questions you can ask yourself to figure out what sparked your MD. If you need help, try sitting down with a therapist who will help you explore these ideas.

Although some of these questions may take time to answer and require a lot of introspection, knowing the causes behind your MD is critical for success.

3. Set small, concrete goals.

Your excessive daydreaming didn’t begin in one day, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to curb it all at once. When trying to break your habit, go at your own pace, even if it means reducing your daydreaming a little bit each week.

Make sure to keep track of the daily errands you need to get done. If necessary, make a small list and set a goal to complete each task by the end of each day. If you’re having trouble staying focused, set up reminders on your phone, tablet, or computer to alert you throughout the day in case you find yourself daydreaming.

4. Identify your triggers.

Music, books, movies, and video games are common daydreaming triggers for people with MD. Discover what triggers you have and avoid them when you need to concentrate.

For example, if you know that your favorite rock song makes you daydream, switch to a different song, or skip music altogether.

5. Set aside time to daydream.

As mentioned before, it may not help you to completely cut daydreaming, so decide when and for how long you will devote to your fantasies.

Consider twenty minutes before heading off to work or school, or a quiet hour in the evening. No matter what you choose, make sure you stay consistent. Typically, a habit takes about two months to form,3 which means that it is important to stick to your intention.

6. Keep active.

Monotony is arguably one of the biggest daydreaming triggers out there, so find interesting ways to occupy your free time. This might take the form of a vigorous pilates class, an exciting art project, or a coffee date with friends.

Any activity that requires your full attention is an excellent way to curb daydreaming.

7. Establish a daily meditation practice.

Meditating can help you develop mindfulness, a state of being conscious of the present moment. Use this skill to keep your mind grounded.

Experiment with different meditations online to see which ones work for you. A good place to start is with guided meditations. The audio instructions will help keep your mind from wandering.

8. Seek out an accountability partner.

Accountability partners are people that can help you maintain your commitment to managing your MD. A close friend, sibling, spouse, counselor, or even a support group can each serve this role.

However, make sure this person is someone you can trust – most people are not familiar with maladaptive daydreaming and may not understand your struggles.

Also, be sure to investigate online maladaptive daydreaming forums, such as Wild Minds Network, where you can find people who can give you encouragement and support.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately see improvement. Remember, recovering from any addictive behavior is a marathon, not a sprint. Knowing how to cure maladaptive daydreaming is not simple, and it might take several months before things get better.

However, if you’re finding this problem too big to handle on your own, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help.

No matter what path you choose, the important thing is to never give up, because each step you take is one step closer to getting back a life of freedom.

Have you found a way to cure maladaptive daydreaming? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

References

[1] Schupak, Cynthia, and Jesse Rosenthal. “Excessive Daydreaming: A Case History and Discussion of Mind Wandering and High Fantasy Proneness.Consciousness and Cognition 18.1 (2009): 290-92. Web.

[2]Schupak, Cynthia. “Daydreamers Anonymous Prelim Findings.” Scribd. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2016.

[3] Lally, Phillippa, Cornelia H. M. Van Jaarsveld, Henry W. W. Potts, and Jane Wardle. “How Are Habits Formed: Modelling Habit Formation in the Real World.” European Journal of Social Psychology Eur. J. Soc. Psychol. 40.6 (2009): 998-1009. Web.

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