Are You Daydreaming Your Life Away?

First of all, it’s important to note that the title of this page is "POSSIBLE" Treatments. The following is simply suggestions that you might want to try. There are absolutely NO “official” treatment options for Maladaptive Daydreaming at this point.  

MD has only started to be studied in the past 6-7 years, and is NOT an illness recognized by the medical community – yet.  The following is a list of suggested possible treatment options that have been tried by myself and other people who also suffer from this problem.  I am NOT a doctor or a mental health professional, and the following comments are ONLY based on my opinion and observations.  This is just a list of suggestions that you MAY wish to try as you deal with MD, and not in any way an official or medically condoned list.

 

Avoiding Triggers: 

A “trigger” is any behavior, object, place, or thing that tends to start your daydreaming, or makes it more likely for you to daydream.  For example, some of my triggers are pacing back and forth, lying in bed daydreaming after waking up, and going to certain websites that encourage my daydreams.  If I avoid those activities, this helps to cut down on time lost daydreaming.  This is a major suggestion for controlling MD.

Other examples of triggers include:  listening to music, playing video games, watching certain TV show or reading certain books.  Repetitive movements that some people do while daydreaming, such as pacing, jiggling something in your hand while daydreaming, rocking, etc., are also triggers, as would be a certain place that you go to daydream.  

Another form of triggers are what I like to call “fantasy planning.”  Examples of this are when you research topics that you “need” to know just for your daydreams, actually make plans for your daydream world (such as looking online for an outfit that you will wear to a party - that only exists in your daydreams) or other behavior of that nature. 

It’s strongly suggested that you figure out exactly what triggers you to daydream, and then avoid or limit those activities if at all possible.  You could actually make a list of all your triggers and then work to avoid them.  Instead of “feeding” your daydreams in this way, use this freed-up time to focus on your real life and real surroundings.

Some people have actually tried going on a partial or total “media fast” avoiding all media as much as possible.  As someone said on one of our forums, “Most MD’ers tend to find 'triggers' in the media, such as internet browsing, television, books, video games and music, and limiting the use of these mediums may help. It's a benefit to helping attention problems as well, considering the 'rapid pacing' of these mediums and how they seem to exacerbate attention problems.”

 

Stay Busy; Avoid Procrastination:

You do have a real life, and actual things that need to be accomplished in that life.  Strive to do the real life things that you need to do, and plan for things that you need to accomplish in your real future.  Try to avoid putting things off that need to get done.  You could try making a weekly list of things that you need to do, and that are reasonable and attainable, then work to accomplish those goals.  Praise yourself every time you check something off the list!  I think that most of us who suffer from this have trouble with procrastinating and doing real life things, including myself, so count as a victory every little move forward. 

Some people may want to make a deal with themselves; if they finish certain tasks, they will give themselves some free daydreaming time (with a DEFINITE start and finish time.) Other people may find that this is a bad idea for them. Perhaps a better plan would be to reward yourself with an enjoyable real life activity instead. You have to experiment and see what works best for YOU.

 

Take Care of Yourself:

It’s easy for people suffering with this illness to ignore or neglect their body and health.  I know from personal experience that those of us with MD can be so focused on our fantasy life and body that we ignore our real needs, real life, and actual physical body.  I now suffer from a chronic health condition that I ignored for years (and that worsened for years)  before I got any help, mostly because I was not really bothering to focus on my real health and body. Please don't let this happen to you.  

It’s very important to get enough sleep every night, eat regular, healthful meals, exercise if possible, and promply attend to any physical problems that you may have.  You will feel better, and also be actively focusing on your real life and body - as you should be. 

 

Reality Check:

When you start daydreaming or are tempted to do so, occasionally remind yourself that the daydreams are NOT reality.  This seems obvious, but it is actually very helpful to sometimes stop yourself when daydreaming and say to yourself, “No, I’m not a TV star or rock singer, and no, I’m not rich and famous.  That is NOT the real me, or my real life.”

I’m sure that some of you will experience this as a letdown, but it’s important for all of us who suffer from this to remember that no matter how enjoyable our daydreams are, they ARE NOT REAL. I know it’s hard to back away from the seductive world of daydreaming, but it’s important to remind yourself that when you’re in love with your daydreams, you’re in love with…..NOTHING. 

 

Avoid Self Hatred:

I suffered with MD for many, many years before I was aware that there was anyone else out there like me.  For a long time, I used to have a LOT of self hatred because of this illness. This was made worse because my mind tends to constantly weave daydreams as I go through my day, and I will quite often be daydreaming for a while before I catch myself doing it. I hated myself so much for this, and could not forgive myself for not being “normal.”  I ultimately realized that that kind of attitude is extremely self-destructive, counter-productive, and worse than useless. 

Please keep in mind that this is an illness just like OCD, Bipolar Disorder, or any other mental health problem.  There is still a great deal of stigmas on such disorders, and this is very unfortunate.

This problem is really no different from any of the above issues, or even different from having diabetes, arthritis, or any other physical malady. It is simply an illness that needs to be dealt with.

Remind yourself of this if you find yourself falling into patterns of self hatred:  you did NOT ask for this problem, and you did NOT choose to have it.  Forgive yourself for not being “perfect” or “normal.”  Be gentle and loving with yourself as you work to deal with this issue, the same as you would to a good friend who came to you with this problem.

  

Withdrawal Symptoms:

Some people on our forums have stated that they have experienced some emotional withdrawal symptoms when they try to lessen or stop daydreaming. People have mentioned such symptoms as anxiety, depression, a feeling of emptiness, changes in sleep patterns, etc. You may or may not experience this, however, daydreaming is by definition an escape from reality. By removing that activity, feeling, thoughts, and issues that have not been dealt with may rise to the surface and now need to be faced and worked through. Please consider both therapy and medication if you find it hard to cope without daydreaming in your life. Both of these things have been very helpful to me. At the very least, be aware that this could initially happen when you start to control your daydreaming, and be prepared to work through it. 

 

Therapy:

It may be helpful if you could go to a good therapist. I know from personal experience that it is so nice just to be able to talk freely to someone about what you think and feel. They can give you impartial opinions about your life, something that you can’t really get from your friends or relatives.  You didn’t ask to be this way; there is no shame in reaching out for help with this or other issues.

The therapist will most likely not have heard of Maladaptive Daydreaming, but you can bring in information or links to websites to show them about it. A therapist can also check for and treat any other issues that you might be dealing with (for instance, I also have OCD and have suffered from severe depression and anxiety.) 

The therapist can also help you deal with any trauma or abuse issues in your past or present. This could be very helpful, as many (but definitely not all) people with MD have had such problems in their life. Any good therapist should also be able to come up with some suggestions that could help you with daydreaming in your day-to-day life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is something you definitely might want to consider.  I have heard from a few people that felt this type of therapy was helpful.

 

Drugs:

Remember, there are NO official drugs prescribed for Maladaptive Daydreaming, as it is not yet an officially recognized disorder.  Patient “X” in the original article by Dr. Schupak was given fluvoxamine (Luvox)  a drug used for OCD.  The patient reported that her daydreaming was much easier to control with this drug treatment.  We also have someone on our Yahoo forum who started using fluvoxamine and seems to have great improvement (by the way, she is middle-aged and has had this problem throughout her whole life, so there is definitely hope for older people with this issue.) 

I have heard through the forums and email about other medications that people claimed to have helped them with MD.  I’ve heard of people stating that they got relief from MD by using various meds meant for ADD, OCD, depression, anxiety, and even meds for psychotic illnesses.   However, it's important to remember that while the claims that people make about various meds helping MD are interesting, they are purely anecdotal at this point, and what works for one person may not for another. It’s really a matter of trial and error; you may have to work with your doctor and try several different meds to find one that could help you and your situation. 

 

Forums:

You might find it helpful to join one of the forums for this issue.  There are a lot of other people out there who suffer from this. People on these sites compare stories, and ideas on how to control Maladaptive Daydreaming.  When I read through the posts, I’m always amazed at how our experiences sound so much alike.  You might make some friends and can compare notes with others who will understand exactly how you feel. Here are some forums:

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/maladaptivedaydreamers/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maladaptive-Daydreaming/

http://wildminds.ning.com/

http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/Suffer-From-Maladaptive-Daydreaming/304795

Prayer:

Though emails and forums, I’ve encountered many religious-minded people who have reported reduction or even elimination of Maladaptive Daydreaming through prayer. Several of these people are members of the MD Yahoo forum.  If you are spiritually inclined in this way, you might consider regular prayer as part of your treatment plan.

 

Other Suggestions:

Socialize/ Hang out with friends:  Many people with this problem will fantasize much less when surrounded by other people. If you think that this might work for you, it could be very helpful, as it obviously also involves participating in your real life and real surroundings.

Creative Activity: Several people have reported that they lessen the desire to daydream by channeling their creativity into writing, drawing, acting, etc. Patient "X" in Dr. Schupak's original article felt that engaging in creative activities, such as acting in plays, suppressed her daydreaming significantly. Another person claimed to control MD completely by writing down and drawing pictures of her daydreams.  On the other hand, some people (including myself) may experience some of these activities as trigger inducing. By trial and error, find out what works for you.

The Buddy System: A few people on MD forums have made friends with other Maladaptive Daydreamers, offering support to each other as they work to deal with this issue.  Certainly no one else will understand what you are going through like another MD sufferer. Obviously, I would recommend putting limits on how much personal/contact information you give someone you don't know.

Meditation:  Several people have suggested and used meditation as a way to focus and quiet the mind. 

I wish that I could offer more help to all of us who suffer with this problem; this is the best that I can do at this point. Please take all this only as SUGGESTIONS, not official treatment options, as there is no official treatment for Maladaptive Daydreaming - yet.  Try applying some of the above suggestions. Give them time to work.  By trial and error, you will find out what works best for you personally. Changes won't happen overnight, but if you work at it, you may be able to repattern your mind and behavior.  

Best of luck to you all, and I will add to this list as I come across more information.