Maladaptive Daydreaming

What is Maladaptive Daydreaming?

Maladaptive daydreaming is a type of behavior where individuals have difficulty controlling their thoughts or behaviors when they are not experiencing stress. They may experience these symptoms while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances. These symptoms include:

Difficulty concentrating

Loss of short term memory (for example, forgetting what you were doing before)

Irritability and anger at others, even if they do nothing wrong. This can lead to physical fights with family members or friends.

These symptoms can last from several hours up to days after the person stops using the substance. If left untreated, they can cause problems such as:

Depression and anxiety disorders. Depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Anxiety disorder causes panic attacks and feelings of fear or dread when faced with potentially threatening situations. Both conditions are treatable with psychotherapy or medication treatment.

How Does Maladaptive Daydreaming Occur?

There is no specific cause of maladaptive daydreaming, but there are some factors that may increase the risk of it occurring. For example, research suggests that people who experience childhood sexual abuse are more likely to experience this condition. If you were a victim of sexual abuse, talk to your doctor or therapist about this possibility. In addition:

Maladaptive daydreaming can affect people of any age, especially if they have depression or anxiety.

This condition frequently occurs in people who have used substances such as alcohol or drugs.

There is a strong family history of substance abuse, depression, or anxiety.

Is Maladaptive Daydreaming Dangerous?

Because no one is quite sure what maladaptive daydreaming is, there is a lot that researchers don’t know about it. We do know it occurs in people who suffer from other mental health conditions that involve substance abuse or depression. If you have this condition, there is a risk that you may also suffer from these conditions.

How Can I Get Help for Maladaptive Daydreaming?

To learn more about maladaptive daydreaming treatment options, call 1-888-993-2385Who Answers?

anytime to talk to a treatment support specialist. They can answer any questions you have, as well as help you find treatment that’s right for you.

List of 9 Mental Health Disorders


Maladaptive Daydreaming: Sources









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Sources & references used in this article:

Maladaptive daydreaming: A qualitative inquiry by E Somer – Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 2002 – Springer

Development and validation of the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS) by E Somer, J Lehrfeld, J Bigelsen, DS Jopp – Consciousness and cognition, 2016 – Elsevier

Maladaptive daydreaming: Evidence for an under-researched mental health disorder by J Bigelsen, JM Lehrfeld, DS Jopp, E Somer – Consciousness and cognition, 2016 – Elsevier

The comorbidity of daydreaming disorder (maladaptive daydreaming) by E Somer, N Soffer-Dudek, CA Ross – The Journal of Nervous and …, 2017 –

Trapped in a daydream: Daily elevations in maladaptive daydreaming are associated with daily psychopathological symptoms by N Soffer-Dudek, E Somer – Frontiers in psychiatry, 2018 –

Reliability, validity, and factor structure of the maladaptive daydreaming scale (MDS–16) in an italian sample by A Schimmenti, L Sideli, L La Marca, A Gori… – Journal of personality …, 2020 – Taylor & Francis

Parallel lives: A phenomenological study of the lived experience of maladaptive daydreaming by E Somer, L Somer, DS Jopp – Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 2016 – Taylor & Francis