I Just Can’t Think! Causes of Concentration Issues and When To Seek Help

Ever said this to yourself?

I just can’t think! What’s wrong with me??

We all have moments when we’re super stressed and we feel like our brain has just ran away with the circus and left us to fend for ourselves. Usually those moments are fleeting and don’t cause too much difficulty.

However, many clients come in for counseling when they feel like they just aren’t themselves and their lack of focus is interferring with their job, family or just general life duties.

Here’s three big cause of this concentration nightmare..

  1. Depression : An inability to focus is common with depression.  This may include impairments in memory and thought processing speed, and attention problems  can make  learning  and retaining information very difficult. Some antidepressant medication used to treat depression may also have cognitive side effects such as attention problems.

                        Many times individuals with depression are very worried about their memory loss and are fearful they are getting dementia.                               

  1.  Anxiety:  Excessive worry and stress can lead to anxiety.  Anxiety can wreck havoc throughout the body, including the brain.  This excessive worrying causes the                  body to rev up into  fight or flight response. 

                        When you’re in this flight or fright mode too much, the oxygen doesn’t get a chance to actually go to where it should to help you think. The result of this                                       lack of oxygen is that you are forgetful and have difficulty focusing.

                3.  Grief:  The process of grief often includes symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Grief often feels like you’re walking through a dark cloud and you                                      just can’t get your mind around what you need to do.

                        This is normal.

                        Grieving itself takes time and lots of mental energy, leaving not a lot left for focusing and higher-level thinking needed throughout much of adult life. 

With both Anxiety and Depression you may experience the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating or it feels like your short-term memory isn’t as good as it use to be
  • Normal tasks seem hard to focus on, you are more forgetful, you forget things that your normally wouldn’t or you have difficulty forming thoughts or carrying on conversations.
  • You may start something and uncharacteristically forget what you were doing soon after.
  • You may have difficulty remembering where you placed things, appointment times or forget what you were looking for.
  • You may forget phone numbers, names or things you did recently.

What Can You Do?

  • Don’t beat yourself up!  Give yourself permission and space to know that this is often normal and you will be ok.
  • Meditate.  This will help you to gain more control over your thoughts and your relationship with your thoughts.
  • Write everything down for now!  It is ok.
  • Be sure to rest, sleep and eat a well balanced diet.
  • Take Breaks.  Often when  we become frustrated with ourselves our concentration gets worse.
  • Gain support from people who understand how you feel.

When to Ask for Help

  • If you have seen your Primary Care Physician and any medical cause for lack of concentration has been ruled out.
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed and just can’t function.  Maybe you’re having a hard time getting to work,  having a difficult time doing your job, missing appointments, or feel unable to care for children and pets.  
  • If you have been experiencing these  symptoms for more than a few weeks and you just aren’t seeing any improvement.
  • If you are a student and find you are unable to focus on your classwork, of if you know you are capable of doing better but anxiety/depression are taking away your focus.

And always, know that we’re here to help you. Just reach out. We’re only a call or email away.



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