Unable to Concentrate
Unable to concentrate is the inability to maintain attention and focus on a task or being easily distracted.

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Unable to concentrate is the inability to maintain attention and focus on a task or being easily distracted.

Alternative Names

Can’t concentrate, concentration difficulty, concentration impairment, difficulty concentrating, disturbed mental concentration, impaired concentration, inability to concentrate, inability to maintain attention, lack of concentration, lacks concentration, mental concentration difficulty, poor concentration.


The ability to concentrate is a function of mental status and cognition. Impairment of the ability to concentrate can be a problem of neurologic or psychiatric origin or a combination of behavior and mentation. The clinician will need to determine if poor concentration is a problem of recent onset or an established pattern of behavior.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Hunger
  • ADHD
  • Adjustment disorder
  • Alcohol related disorders
  • Acute stress disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Concussion
  • Delirium
  • Dementia
  • Dysthymia
  • Insomnia
  • Lead poisoning
  • Major depression
  • Post concussion syndrome
  • Postpartum depression
  • Side effects of psychoactive medications
  • Hashimoto’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Fragile X Syndrome

Diagnosis and Treatment

Changes in the ability to concentrate should be evaluated by a physician and may require referral to a specialist (neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist, behavioral therapist, pediatrician) for further diagnostic work-up and treatment. Diagnostic studies may include laboratory studies, brain scans and EEG. Treatment will depend on the underlying condition. Cognitive Development Intervention strategies may be implemented as part of Individual Family Service Plans (IFSP) and Individual Educational Plans (IEP) to enhance cognitive development. Medications, cognitive-behavioral strategies are possible treatment options, depending on the diagnosis.

Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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