Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Distractibility is the state of being easily distracted, that is, having one's attention diverted from the task or thought at hand and turning to another unrelated thought or activity. Distractibility likely occurs due an inability to filter out outside stimuli such as noises or internal thoughts when trying to concentrate. Distractibility can occur in normal individuals who are tired or sleep-deprived, and it is also a symptom of certain medical conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Substance abuse and withdrawal can also cause distractibility, and it can be a feature of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Distractibility is a very nonspecific symptom and is not always related to a disease or illness.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
ADHD Symptoms in Children
What is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)? Learn to recognize ADHD symptoms in children....
Adult ADHD Quiz: Symptoms & Test
What are the symptoms of adult ADHD? Take this quiz to learn what it means for an adult to suffer from ADHD and what can be done...
Childhood ADHD Quiz: Test, Symptoms & Medication
Find out causes, symptoms, and treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a widespread behavioral condition...
Schizophrenia Quiz: What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a complex psychiatric disorder. Learn more about the challenges of mental illness with the Schizophrenia Quiz....
Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment
What is schizophrenia? Learn about schizophrenia symptoms, signs, and treatment. Read about schizophrenia types such as paranoid...
The 14 Most Common Causes of Fatigue
Always feeling tired? Learn more about the causes of fatigue. Get tips to relieve symptoms of fatigue. Feel less tired and start...
Causes of Distractibility
13 Tips for Parenting a Teen With ADHD
Parenting a teenager who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be challenging. Parents can use specific...
Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
About 2%-6% of adults have ADHD, a common behavioral problem. Symptoms include impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention....
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems,...
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in teens is a disruption of neurocognitive functioning. Genetics contribute to...
Bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is a mental illness characterized by depression, mania, and severe mood swings. Treatment...
Childhood ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes the following symptoms in children: excessive activity, problems...
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one...
Depression in Children
Childhood depression can interfere with social activities, interests, schoolwork and family life. Symptoms and signs include...
Depression in the Elderly
Depression in the elderly is very common. That doesn't mean, though, it's normal. Treatment may involve antidepressants,...
Drug addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and...
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
Consuming alcohol during pregnancy may cause fetal alcohol syndrome, a group of conditions associated with mental, growth, and...
Head Injury (Brain Injury)
In the United States, head injuries are one of the most common causes of death and disability. Head injuries due to bleeding are...
Learning disabilities can cause an individual to have trouble learning and using skills such as reading, listening, writing,...
Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder that may cause hallucinations and delusions and affect a person's ability to...
Stress occurs when forces from the outside world impinge on the individual. Stress is a normal part of life. However,...
Depression in teenagers may be caused by many factors. Symptoms of teen depression include apathy, irresponsible behavior,...
Teen Drug Abuse
Drugs commonly abused by teens include tobacco products, marijuana, cold medications, inhalants, depressants, stimulants,...
Other Causes of Distractibility
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Children's Health & Parenting Newsletter