Maladaptive Daydreaming

Daydreaming is our break from reality. We all have our own imaginary situations going on in our mind. Who doesn’t like to wander and take a break from reality. But, what If you were unable to live in the reality due to your daydreaming? What If your escape found no route back to the real world? That is what Maladaptive Daydreaming is all about.

What is Maladaptive Daydreaming?

Maladaptive Daydreaming is a condition where the person is unable to touch his feet to the ground(reality) due to his feet touching a consolidated and intense imaginary ground.
The common observable symptoms are as follows:

•Escaping the reality by making up an alternate world and living in it for hours.
•Well structured plots with defined storyline and settings
•Lasts for several minutes to several hours.
•Withdrawal from social activities and relationships due to the extensive and intense daydreaming.
•Trouble while focusing in everyday tasks.
•Trouble sleeping
•Daydreaming becomes an addiction where you no longer have control on it and feel empty If not engaging in it. It becomes the top priority of the day
•Talking to yourself and making faces.

What triggers the daydreams?

•Real life events
•conversation topic
•noise or smell

Why some people may resort to it unknowingly?

Intense daydreaming may act as a coping strategy. A person who is tired of his daily mundane lifestyle, traumatic past or present, may find daydreaming as a comfort zone rather than a mere temporary escape.
During Covid 19 lockdown many people experienced something similar due to the elimination of interactions and activities from their lives.

How Is it different from daydreaming?

•Daydreaming acts as an temporary escape. It is rather a pleasant experience whenever the reality goes harsh on us.
Maladaptive Daydreaming is rather creating one’s own comfort zone in an imaginative alternate reality and withdrawing from reality

• Daydreams are usually about pleasant scenarios or our imaginary future.
Maladaptive Daydreaming can be pleasant too. However, it also involves well defined plots about control,power,sex,rescue.

•Daydreams start and end in our minds. It just makes us feel happy.
Maladaptive Daydreaming may be accompanied by movements, talking to oneself and facial expressions. The person gets deeply involved in his alternate reality.

Is Maladaptive Daydreaming considered as a disorder?

Maladaptive Daydreaming was first defined in 2002 and is not yet recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Does Maladaptive Daydreaming has a treatment?

There is no official treatment method for Maladaptive Daydreaming. There is no method to diagnose it either. However,Somer developed the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS) which helps to determine if a person is experiencing Maladaptive Daydreaming.
Maladaptive Daydreaming is often diagnosed as Schizophrenia in which a person is unable to differentiate fantasy from reality.

What are the effects of Maladaptive Daydreaming?

Though a person indulges in extensive fantasizing to protect himself from anxiety, trauma, depression or obsessive compulsive disorder, however,it may lead to negative effects on one’s emotions, social life and mental well being. Some of the effects are as follows:

•Emotional Distress. After daydreaming so extensively one may feel emotionally worse due to their energy and concentration being highly invested in a reality which yields nothing and is above all, imaginary.

•It is common among people suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and may lead the person to suffer from anxiety, restlessness and attention deficiency.

•A person may spend 4.5 hours of his day engaging in intense daydreaming. Therefore, withdrawing from social activities, interactions and an active lifestyle.

• The person is unable to focus on what is going on and fails to grasp responsibilities,tasks,and studies. They may find it tiring and draining.

However,It can be managed through living an active lifestyle, engaging in interactions and meditating to keep the urge and the anxiety at bay. The human mind is indeed a world of its own. Sometimes,we alone cannot control it. Consulting a psychologist and talking about it may give us more insight into the condition.Withdrawal and Isolation may end up making the condition worse.