Excessive daydreaming: when dreaming awake becomes a problem

Excessive daydreaming: when dreaming awake becomes a problem

Excessive daydreaming is a disorder in which people spend a large part of their lives being subjected to the most complex and varied fantasies. This disconnection, this absolute distance from reality, completely interferes with adherence to personal responsibilities such as work, hygiene, and even food.

We dream all awake, there is no doubt. During the day, we escape our routine and pressure problems through reverie, these doors that we can cross between five and six times a day according to our needs. Doing so, allowing us these punctual but rewarding leaks, far from answering something pathological, is actually a healthy and necessary exercise.

"Excessive daydreaming is often a defense mechanism, a strategy to use to escape a traumatic event."
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Our brain needs these fantasies, this imaginary world that can sometimes be used to relieve stress and find spaces to reflect and expand its creativity. The mind loves to wander. It should be remembered that we have several brain areas such as the cerebral cortex and the limbic system, which make us dream so that we can better manage our emotions and allow us to make better decisions.

Generally, the majority of us know how to control those times when the mind is unstable. However, a small part of the population is unable to regulate this drive of daydreaming. These people spend a good part of the day separated from reality, being subject to an inner world and unable to take responsibility for their lives. We face a clinical condition that is better to know.

Excessive daydreaming, caught in compulsive fantasies

Fantasizing is not bad, but when that behavior turns into something compulsive, it becomes so. To do so, to practice this practice based on fantasy and continuous daydreaming often responds to an underlying disorder that is important to clarify. To achieve this and to live with this type of condition is not easy. For this, there are many forums and help groups such as the "Wild Minds Network "in which many patients share their experiences, information and advice.

On the other hand, it is important to point out thattoday, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) still does not take into account the disorder of excessive daydreaming. Nevertheless, in view of the documentation and the cases described, it is very likely that this disorder will appear in the manual over the next few years and this, in a definitive way thanks to the work of a person: Dr. Eliezer Somer, of the Haifa University in Israel.

Clinical setting

Since 2002, this psychiatrist has been describing cases, symptoms and positive therapeutic approaches. Let's look at the clinical setting that patients with excessive daydreams seem to have.

  • People with excessive daydreaming create complex internal narrativesto the point of giving life to concrete characters and very well defined in their fantasies.
  • These fantasies live in a very realistic way. It is even common for people to gesticulate or present facial expressions in accordance with what they feel like living, in keeping with their daydreams.
  • Much of the time is dedicated to this, dreaming, creating a parallel world. Often, these people do not take care of basic issues such as food or hygiene.
  • As we can deduce, patients with excessive daydreams are unable to take responsibility for their studies, their work or social relations, etc.
  • These fantasies therefore act as authentic addictive processes. When patients have to stop or interrupt a moment of their fantasy to return to reality and carry out a task, they get angry and a high rate of anxiety develops, associated with ill-being.

How is excessive daydreaming treated?

Dr. Eliazer Somer previously cited developed a scale to diagnose this type of clinical condition. This is the "Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS)" which is as valid as it is effective to make a good diagnosis. Let us not forget that this disorder can sometimes be confused with other conditions such as schizophrenia or psychosis, diseases in which constant fantasies associated with the sensation of unreality also appear.

On the other hand, before deciding on the useful treatment for a person with excessive daydreaming, it is necessary to know what caused it. Often, excessive reverie is linked to very complex psychological realities that must be taken into account and delimited.

  • The People who have suffered from any traumatic event often use daydream as a way out.
  • Depression is also associated with this condition.
  • People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can also fantasize very often.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder and borderline personality disorder also exhibit this symptomatology.

Once the health professional has delimited this condition by understanding the antecedents and needs of each patient, he will opt for a pharmacological and / or psychotherapeutic approach. Usually, good results have been observed with fluvoxamine, a type of antidepressant. With regard to the psychological response, cognitive-behavioral therapy has also been useful.

Work of the psychologist

The points worked by the psychologist with the patient will therefore be as follows:

  • Promote in the person new interests, motivating goals to awake the illusion and the contact with reality.
  • Establish schedules by schematizing what is expected of each moment to learn to control and manage time.
  • Identify triggers causing daydreaming.
  • Improve the ability to concentrate.

To conclude, although this disorder may seem odd to us, nothing can be more frail for a person than living away from reality. Not being a part of life also takes us away from ourselves and no one deserves to live that way.

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