BY: Online Therapy
Accelerated Thought Syndrome (ATS) / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) / Online Psychologist / Online Psychotherapist / Online therapist
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An Article by Sara Taveira
Slow down your thinking momentarily and ask yourself: Is my effectiveness and productivity being compromised?
If you feel as if your productivity is being compromised, then taking a step back and considering the potential underlying causes might be worthwhile…… Instead of rushing to match your symptoms with an “Adult ADHD” diagnosis, we suggest you explore alternative explanations. One possibility is Accelerated Thought Syndrome (ATS), a condition that shares similarities with ADHD but is quite distinct in its manifestation and implications.
What is Accelerated Thought Syndrome (ATS)
ATS is a thought pathology commonly observed in mental health patients, particularly those experiencing manic episodes (Rice, 1986). ATS has its own distinct set of causes and presenting symptoms, setting it apart from “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD). The increasing prevalence yet underdiagnosis of APS highlights the importance of raising its awareness. Individuals with APS may grapple with various challenges, including mood swings, concentration, attention, and memory – as well as heightened irritability, physical and mental fatigue, difficulty in managing setbacks and impaired intellectual development. Additionally, anticipatory anxiety, reduced sleep quality, and difficulty in relaxing and slowing down their thoughts are common experiences for those affected by APS. (1).
Overstimulation caused by the frequent exposure to excessive information, combined with the demands of multitasking and the pressures of modern life, can hinder our ability to manage our thoughts effectively. This can decrease cognitive abilities, such as complex thinking, maintaining resilience, and creativity, which can lead to heightened stress levels and even burnout. As well, It has been found that prolonged connectivity to the Internet contributes to restlessness, anxiety, and irritability, symptomatic of APS – especially in the case of those who live fast-paced lives and are competitive by nature.
Notably, APS is not just an adult issue, with children and adolescents also being diagnosed. APS also does not discriminate against gender, socioeconomic circumstances or career background. Importantly, APS can also cause physical symptoms, including headaches, muscle aches, stomach pains and even hair loss (1).
Effects of overstimulation and Accelerated Thought Syndrome (ATS)
The pervasive usage of the internet compels us to remain continuously exposed to an excess of stimuli. This, in conjunction with the overwhelming array of daily responsibilities in our fast-paced and competitive environment, tends to evoke symptoms of restlessness, anxiety, and irritability, characteristic of ATS.
It is crucial to acknowledge that we should not place excessive demands on ourselves by limiting our exposure to overwhelming information and critical or stimulating visual and auditory cues, especially those that promote consumption over self-reflection on our internal landscape of emotions and thoughts. We should be independent of technology and resist being trapped by the pressure to compete. Success does not hinge on being the best, and failure is not a permanent condition but an action bearing no reflection on our self-worth (1).
Limiting our exposure to information overload and critical/stimulating visual/auditory cues is not always easy or possible. Nonetheless, it can help if we avoid becoming overly reliant on technology and resist being ensnared by competitive pressures. Success does not necessarily hinge on being the best, just as failure is not a permanent condition or an outcome that reflects our potential.
What to do when you recognise APS
Individuals who think they show symptoms of this syndrome are encouraged to seek assistance from a psychologist in order to reestablish routines and reprogramme cognitive processes to reduce the impact. Maintaining adaptive behaviours can promote personal wellbeing, for instance, mitigating task intensity, incorporating breaks between activities, participating in non-technological leisure activities including relaxation/meditation and, finally, increasing our physical activity levels.
By familiarising ourselves with APS and its potential impact on well-being, we can better understand our circumstances and make better-informed choices regarding possible next steps. Understanding the distinctive features of APS is crucial in properly understand and address the condition and source appropriate support and management strategies. Recommendations: We suggest that, as far as possible, you reduce the use of new technologies in your daily life. Prioritise improving time management, systematically organising your routines, and identifying the importance of various tasks, These can all yield benefits. As well, cultivate self-awareness and understanding of your aspirations, achievements and emotions.
Complete the contact form below to contact a therapist who can answer questions in the article Online Therapy NZ Explains Accelerated Thought Syndrome (ATS).
(1) Augusto Cury, Training Your Emotion to be Happy, AuthorHouse, 2004
(2) Rice, Elizabeth Ann, “Accelerated Thinking: Its Relation to Manic Pathology, Phase of Illness and Psychosis among Psychiatric Patients” (1986). Master’s Theses. 3490. https://ecommons.luc.edu/luc_theses/3490