Bipolar Mania Symptoms

Distractibility

What is distractibility?

Distractibility is an inability to maintain focus or attention. Minimal stimuli cause the mind's attention to divert and wander.14

The person may be distracted internally (thoughts, feelings, ideas or emotions) and externally (environmental events and physical stimuli).

What does distractibility feel like?

The person may feel frustrated by their inability to pay attention. The mind may feel out of control.

How can I recognize distractibility?

The person's productivity decreases. He or she may seem 'lost'.

New projects are started prior to completion of current or old ones. The person is unable to maintain attention on simple and short activities.

The person changes the subject of the conversation frequently.

He or she seems busy and occupied, while at the same time, not getting much done.

How does distractibility impact life?

Tasks of daily living such as work, studying, or leisure activities become difficult. For example, a student may be unable to stay attentive in class and find it difficult to submit assignments on respective deadlines.31

Distractibility, by itself, is a cognitive challenge. When present with other symptoms of bipolar disorder, distractibility is debilitating. It makes the success of already unrealistic and manic goals and activities even less likely.

Distractibility usually presents simultaneously with other bipolar mania symptoms. The combined effect of these symptoms can leave the person unable to perform activities of daily living.3

My Story

As a veteran miner, I work underground drilling rock. One manic day my thoughts were scattered, going way too fast, and I was unable to pay due attention to the safety of my co-workers. At the time, I did not know what was happening. I still drill rock, and if I'm distracted, I take the day off.

~ Wyatt, Calgary, AB