Maladaptive Daydreaming as an Addiction


Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you. NHS

After months of waiting to see a therapist, I finally got to have my first appointment to talk about my maladaptive daydreaming last week. She’s a nice lady and didn’t seem to think I was a complete nutcase to have started immersive daydreaming. I told her I view maladaptive daydreaming as an addiction that I can’t control or stop and half the time I don’t want to stop it, as obviously it feels just too good. It makes me feel happy being in my own little world.

She told me she works a lot with people who suffer with addictions and yes this immersive daydreaming that we’re all suffering from is definitely an addiction.

So how do you break this maladaptive daydreaming addiction, assuming of course that you want to?

So she asked me a question, which I’ll ask you…

Therapist: Is there anything that you really love doing?

Me: Yes travel. I love travelling.

Therapist: Well you could travel somewhere, couldn’t you?

Me: Well, yes I suppose. But to be honest there’s not much point at the moment because I’ll be daydreaming the whole time and so won’t be taking everything in.

Therapist: Well then, are you basically saying there’s nothing at the present that you can think of that will feel better than daydreaming?

Me: Ummm. Gosh, maybe I am, I can’t think of anything that I love doing that will make me actually stop maladaptive daydreaming. Or that feels better.

(Feeling a bit worried now)

Therapist: What happens when you force yourself to stop immersive daydreaming?

Me: I become incredibly anxious and I have nothing that can fill that void apart from the maladaptive daydreaming so I go back to it.

Therapist: So you’re saying that you use maladaptive daydreaming as away to cope with your anxiety plus it’s a form of escapism for you?

Me: Yes.

Me: If I stop daydreaming I feel so anxious. Palpitations, I feel teary, I can’t sit still. So what are you saying? There’s nothing I can do then apart from MDD to stop feeling anxious?  And if there’s nothing I like doing that makes me feel better than daydreaming, what on earth does that mean? What should I do? I don’t want to live like this forever!

The Eureka Moment

And she said: “it’s quite simple really. Maladaptive daydreaming is an addiction, which you use as a coping mechanism. So find another way to cope.  There are other ways to cope with anxiety and trauma, you just need to find another healthier way that works for you.

Her last comment resonated with me as it made me think, there are other alternatives to try such as:

The homework the therapist set for maladaptive daydreamers

I thought I’d tell you what she asked me to do in case you don’t have access to a therapist or wanted to also try something new out.

  1. Make a conscious decision to stop daydreaming for 30 minutes everyday.  She did at first set a timeframe of a few hours but that for me was not realistic (I’m a hard core maladaptive daydreamer after all). I thought 30 minutes was more achievable so I set that as my time limit. But you might want to set another time limit.


2. Make a list of things you think you’d enjoy doing. These things do not have to be as good as maladaptive daydreaming but at least as half as good. So for example:-  -You might want to try out a new course, gym, swimming, a dance class etc. For now it’s just about writing ideas down.

Well tomorrow is my third session with the therapist and will update you if anything new comes to light.

Do you have a question?

If you have something to add or advice or if you just want to ask a question then please get in touch and leave a comment below.

Best wishes