Intrusive thoughts can be described as unwanted thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere and are distressing. They may be connected to a real-life event such as a flashback after a traumatic event. Other thoughts may be annoying or anxiety-provoking thoughts or obsessions such as “what-ifs”. These thoughts may revolve around fears related to areas such as contamination, being an immoral person, doing or saying the “wrong’ thing, or taboo content areas. Those with disordered eating might also experience intrusive thoughts surrounding food, body image, and weight. Specialized treatment can be effective, depending on the nature of the intrusive thoughts.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Resources:
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Resources:
Disordered Eating Resources:
Those who struggle with rumination tend to find themselves stuck in repetitive thought patterns. Some replay the same scenarios such as events surrounding a breakup, with the hope to gain clarity but only to become caught up in the same thought loop in which it is hard to stop ruminating. Those who struggle with anxiety, depression, trauma, or OCD can commonly be impacted by rumination. Those impacted by grief and loss such as loss after suicide may also experience rumination.
Grief & Loss Resources:
Negative Automatic Thoughts
These types of thoughts involve unhelpful-automatic-thoughts, often referred to as cognitive distortions present in negative thinking. Negative automatic thoughts can be impacted by stressors and are more present in times when anxiety or depression are elevated and also in events where strong emotions such as anger may be triggered. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often utilized to help work with negative automatic thoughts.
Anxiety & Depression Resources:
Scattered, Unfocused, and Racing Thoughts
Difficulties staying focused due to scattered or racing thoughts may be impacted by several mental health conditions such as neurodevelopmental disorders such as Attention- Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or learning disabilities. Those who are anxious or depressed can struggle with difficulties concentrating. Racing-thoughts are described as rapid thought patterns that are often overwhelming. These are often linked to anxiety but may also be present in ADHD, OCD, and bipolar (mania). Poor sleep and those who are agitated and irritable may also present with racing thoughts.
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Resources:
Psychosis and Suicidal Thoughts
Psychosis typically involves primarily hallucinations which include seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t present, and delusions which involve strong beliefs that are not reality-based. There are treatment options that can help manage symptoms, which often include medications.
**If you are struggling with hallucinations, delusions, or thoughts of harming yourself or others, it is important to seek immediate help to manage symptoms and ensure safety for yourself and others. In the case of an emergency, call 911. You can also utilize crisis resources for additional support.
Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC
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