Ever get stuck in your head with unwanted thoughts or ideas? It is uncomfortable and disturbing. Intruding thoughts occur from time to time. The image can evoke disturbing or violent associations, such as punching a wall, hurting oneself, thoughts of meeting with an accident, killing a family member, etc. Why do these things happen ? There are many causes of intrusive thoughts including anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you are experiencing unwanted thoughts or images in your head, build awareness about your thought pattern and seek professional help.
What Are Intrusive Thoughts?
As the name implies, an intrusive thought is unwelcome, interruptive, involuntary, and often distressing. Many of these thoughts appear out of nowhere and can repeatedly recur, giving them even more power. Sometimes, the thoughts expressed are out of character and contrary to the individual's beliefs and values. An intrusive thought may be violent, disturbing, sexually graphic, or a reflection of beliefs abhorrent to the individual.
Individuals may judge themselves harshly when these thoughts occur, making them even more distressed. It is advisable to seek medical help if they occur regularly, cause significant concern, or interfere with day-to-day functioning.
ManoShala offers affordable and accessible mental health solutions to everyone dealing with anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, and other conditions through one-on-one counseling as well as art-based group wellness workshops. With music, body movement, art and drama, ManoShala offers support to individuals dealing with various mental issues. Book a free 15-minutes pre-screening call with us to discuss your requirements.
What conditions include intrusive thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts can happen unexpectedly and can be caused by mental health conditions, like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Here are a few things that can cause intrusive thoughts.
An OCD sufferer may find intrusive thoughts extremely distressing. People with OCD spend much time suppressing unwanted thoughts (obsessions). In most cases, it involves repeating certain behaviors or habits. A person's quality of life can be affected by compulsions. The good news is that treatment for OCD can make a big difference.
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
People with PTSD may experience intrusive thoughts related to traumatic events in their past. These thoughts or memories can trigger other PTSD symptoms such as insomnia or over-alertness. People with PTSD can have trouble functioning daily. It's possible to get relief from symptoms through trauma-focused treatments.
It's not unusual for those suffering from eating disorders to experience intrusive thoughts about their bodies, weight, or what they eat. They may feel guilty, ashamed, or concerned about food or body image, which can be extremely distressing. Those suffering from eating disorders may also experience significant changes in their behavior related to food and eating. Seek medical attention if you are experiencing eating disorder symptoms to avoid serious complications.
Treatment for Intrusive Thoughts
Intrusive thoughts are powerful because they stick with you for a long time. Since they're strange and upsetting, they're powerful. You can manage intrusive thoughts by reducing your sensitivity to them, and here's what you can do.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that can be used to treat a wide range of mental health issues. The ability it has to create distance between the person and their thoughts can be helpful for people who have intrusive thoughts that become obsessive. The idea behind CBT is that we can change our thought patterns. CBT can help you identify intrusive thoughts, process them, and reframe them, so they're less powerful.
The foundation of mindfulness is observing your thoughts calmly and without judging or getting emotionally involved in them. Doing this does not deny intrusive thoughts exist; you're changing how you deal with them. You don't need any special equipment to start meditating; just a few minutes and somewhere quiet. Apps with meditation courses specifically for beginners and people with intrusive thoughts are also available.
Remember, It'll pass eventually
Repetition of this simple but powerful mantra may help you regain perspective. If an intrusive thought occupies you, it might feel like it's never going away. Remember that ideas and states of mind are both temporary, and there's no such thing as a permanent state. Mantras such as "It will pass eventually" or "My thoughts are temporary" can help lessen their impact.
Intrusive thoughts can be distressing, but if they occur only occasionally, they should not be dangerous. In most cases, they are not caused by anything specific. It will be easier to move on once we realize that it is merely a thought. If intrusive thoughts are caused by an underlying mental disorder such as OCD or PTSD, they may take time to diagnose and treat. If you follow your treatment plan, it might ease symptoms and make thoughts less frequent. You can cope with these thoughts with medications and cognitive behavioral therapy. Consult your doctor if you are experiencing intrusive thoughts that interfere with your daily life.