Maladaptive Daydreaming: Why is Daydreaming Addictive?

Today I’ll delve into the question of how excessive daydreaming can become addictive and why it’s not something that starts as an addiction right away. Initially, people don’t begin as maladaptive daydreamers; it often begins innocently, spending just a few minutes daydreaming, and it feels entirely manageable. It’s a bit like how some people might casually play video games, and it’s under control. However, as time goes on, something shifts. Those brief daydreaming moments start spiraling into uncontrollable daydreaming episodes. This transition from manageable to uncontrollable is where it becomes more similar to addiction. But why does this happen?

The Role of Stress as a Catalyst for Daydreaming Addiction

One major reason daydreaming can become as addictive as seeking comfort food when stressed is the role of stress itself. Just like how we often crave a sweet treat or a comforting meal when we’re feeling stressed or anxious, our minds naturally yearn for something that can offer respite from the pressures of life. Daydreaming can serve as precisely that — a mental escape where we can temporarily evade the anxieties and tensions that accompany everyday existence.

As stress levels rise, the pull of daydreaming grows stronger; it provides a soothing retreat where we feel safe and in control. With time, this becomes an ingrained daily habit, similar to turning to our favorite comfort food when faced with stress. Even the smallest twinge of boredom or stress can trigger this reflexive retreat into a daydream, much like reaching for a favorite snack in times of emotional distress. This ease of access to an escape within our own thoughts makes daydreaming remarkably addictive; it’s as though our thoughts and inner world conspire to pull us in, creating a compelling mental sanctuary from life’s demands.

The Role of Dopamine in Daydreaming Addiction

Another big reason why daydreaming can become addictive is because it makes you feel really, really good. It’s like a happiness rush, almost like a natural high. This happens especially when your daydreams are filled with happy and positive stuff. It’s kind of like how someone might really want another drink to keep feeling good. In daydreaming, you might really want to go back to those happy daydreams because they give you that great feeling. It’s like your brain is looking for a hit of happiness, and daydreams are where it finds it. So, you keep wanting to go back to that perfect place where everything feels awesome. This positive feeling is closely tied to a brain chemical called dopamine, which has a unique knack for making things appear even more enjoyable than they actually are.

In essence, your daydreams become a sort of playground where your brain’s dopamine levels go up. It’s like a booster for those moments, making them feel even more fantastic than reality. So, when you return to your daydreams, you’re essentially chasing that delightful dopamine rush, seeking the heightened joy and contentment it offers.

The Creative Appeal of Daydreaming

Another significant aspect contributing to the addictive nature of daydreaming is the inclination of certain people toward creativity and imagination, such as artists or writers. Creatives possess a rich inner world where daydreaming becomes all the more enticing. For them, it’s not merely an escape from reality; it’s deeply intertwined with their identity, serving as a powerful creative outlet.

Daydreams become a canvas where they paint vivid mental pictures and weave intricate narratives. It’s a familiar, comforting space they can readily retreat to, like a sanctuary for their imaginative prowess. As a result, daydreaming becomes not just a coping mechanism but an essential aspect of their artistic expression and personal exploration, adding an extra layer to its addictive nature.


It’s crucial to recognize that even if you believe you have control over your daydreaming, the primary emphasis should always be on addressing the underlying issues that drive it. While you may be adept at managing daydreaming, it remains essential to confront and work through those deeper issues, such as unresolved trauma or persistent anxiety. The reason is simple: the more you rely on daydreaming as your escape, the further you distance yourself from the essential task of facing life’s inevitable challenges and stressors.

Instead of constantly seeking refuge in your daydreams, the key lies in discovering healthier and more constructive coping mechanisms. By doing so, you can cultivate the inner resilience required to navigate reality without the constant need for daydreaming as an escape route. Remember, seeking help and support when daydreaming remains immersive is a courageous step toward regaining control of your life and finding lasting contentment in the real world.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with overcoming and managing maladaptive daydreaming without spending years in therapy, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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