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Can’t Concentrate

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I can’t concentrate or focus on any of my book work.I am an Intern at a Seattle Mission place. Part of my work is reading and studying from text books. No matter how hard I try I can’t seem to focus. I’ve always excelled in the physical aspects of life. I don’t understand what I am reading and/or retain any of it. I have a history of drug addiction and would like to stay clear from all medications. How can I get control of this?

I would recommend having a medical evaluation. It is important to rule out a physical problem.

If you choose to have a medical evaluation, be certain to inform the physician about your history of drug addiction. That information is important because it may be contributing to your attention difficulties. The physician can make that determination.

You should also consider seeing a therapist. Seeing a therapist would be advantageous for several reasons. One reason would be that he or she could objectively evaluate your situation and make a determination about the problem.

Secondly, a therapist could evaluate the manner in which you study. Perhaps your study habits are contributing to the problem. In addition, a therapist could evaluate whether or not you have an attention-deficit disorder.

In the meantime, I would recommend that you conduct a thorough examination of your study habits. For example, what time of day do you study? Do you study after a long day of work and are understandably tired? The time of day that you study could have a major impact on your ability to focus. Trying to study after a long day of work would be a very difficult challenge for most people.

What about the lighting in the room? Do you study with the television on? What other distractions are in the room when you are studying? There is a great deal of research that suggests that multitasking is very inefficient. When it comes to studying, watching television or listening to the radio would not be recommended.

I would also recommend educating yourself about attention-deficit disorders and strategies for increasing attention span. There are many books written on the subject.

I hope that I have helped. I wish you the best of luck on your continued studies.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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