Maladaptive daydreaming: A Name for your Excessive Fantasies

Have you ever sat bored in a class or at work? Have you found yourself drifting in a daydream full of fantasies and supernatural powers? Or have you found yourself voyaging the world in your daydream? Nearly all of us have been there, and we do enjoy this particular activity. Daydreaming can be relaxing and can have a beneficial impact on your life. Sometimes it lets you be creative, solve the problems and plan the future. But as they say, balance is the key to life, too much daydreaming can have an opposite effect leading to social, occupational, or academic impairment. This impairment in daily activities is called Maladaptive Daydreaming.

What is Maladaptive Daydreaming?

Maladaptive daydreaming (MD), also called Daydreaming disorder, is a psychiatric condition that can interfere with one’s ability to carry out daily tasks. Professor Eliezer Somer identified MD, but it is yet to be fully accepted as a psychiatric condition globally. It can result from a past traumatic experience or an underlying conflict from which a patient tries to escape reality or to look for solutions. It has also been found that MD can coexist with many known psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

How does it affect your life?

Maladaptive daydreaming can affect your life negatively. Excessive daydreaming can interfere with studies or job by diverting your attention. You may lose focus and waste time by being lost in thoughts instead of preparing for your exam or report.

It can also affect relationships. Too much daydreaming often makes people irritable and moody when they are disturbed. They do not like anyone interrupting their fantasies and will quickly try to go back to the daydream. It limits their time with friends and family.

Excessive fantasies can also change one’s perspective on life. So lost in the beauty of an imaginary world, people find real-life hard and depressive. Unable to deal with real-life problems with an imaginary solution or unable to accept the difference between the two worlds, people often face mental health problems. Skipping sleep or food due to daydreaming may affect health at minor stages and can even progress to physical impairment.

Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS-16)

Although not yet accepted as a disorder, it is a clinically significant condition. To identify people suffering from MD, Somer and the team devised a scale to assess maladaptive daydreaming. He named it MDS (Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale) with a cut-off score of 50%. It included the range of impact of sixteen components which affect one’s daily life. It is a simple and easily accessible scale.

Here are the sixteen components simplified for you:

  1. Does music trigger daydream?
  2. How strong is the urge to continue when interrupted?
  3. Does daydream accompany with expressions or words?
  4. Does being unable to daydream cause distress?
  5. Does daydream interfere with your daily chores or tasks?
  6. Do you feel distressed about the amount of time you spend daydreaming?
  7. Is it difficult to complete a challenging task without daydreaming?
  8. Does daydreaming hinder you from achieving your overall life goals?
  9. How difficult is it for you to control or limit daydreaming?
  10. Do you feel annoyed when the daydream is interrupted?
  11. Does daydreaming affect your academic/occupational success or personal achievements?
  12. How much does daydreaming affect your social life?
  13. How strong is the urge to daydream immediately after waking up?
  14. How often is the daydream accompanied by physical activity such as pacing, swinging, or shaking your hands?
  15. How much do you find daydreaming comforting and/or enjoyable?
  16. How much is daydreaming dependent on continued listening to music?

Reality takes you from A to Z, and imagination takes you everywhere. Always keep in mind that excessive daydreaming can also take you to weak academic, vocational, personal, and interpersonal life. A balance must be kept, and a line should always be drawn whenever you go to your dreamland. Where a little daydreaming can help you shape your future, unrestrained daydreaming can destroy it. So we should all try to curb this habit to stay healthy, achieve our goals, and enjoy life to the fullest with our friends and family.

Written by: Maryam Fatima

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