Intrusive thoughts, sometimes related to complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), can wreak havoc on someone’s life. Coping with intrusive thoughts can be hard to manage without the help of mental health therapy programs. To learn how to stop intrusive thoughts from occurring, contact Northpoint Recovery at 208.486.0130.
What Are Intrusive Thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts or images that pop into your head without reason and can cause you to become obsessed or distressed.
Common Intrusive Thoughts
Invasive thoughts may take the following forms:
- Fears of the future
- Memories from the past
- Inappropriate thoughts
- Disturbing images
Ultimately, intrusive and invasive thoughts are normal.
Causes of Intrusive Thoughts
Some of the mental health issues that can cause intrusive thoughts include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder – Intrusive thoughts are often a part of what people struggling with PTSD experience regularly, so treating PTSD usually involves overcoming thoughts like this.
- Eating disorders – People with these conditions are typically trying to overcome intrusive thoughts that are recurring and dominant in their minds.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder – The intrusive thoughts of OCD may also contribute to the development of agoraphobia or severe social anxiety, making leaving the house almost impossible.
- Depression or anxiety – When you feed into intrusive thoughts, it can lead to depression or anxiety. Those struggling with these conditions may find medical and psychiatric services helpful. These intrusive thoughts can eventually lead people to substance abuse and addiction.
- Addiction – A lot of people will turn to drugs, alcohol, or certain behaviors like gambling as a way to cope with their problems.
While intrusive thoughts can be jarring, they usually aren’t signs of an underlying disorder unless severe or persistent.
How Dual Diagnosis Treatment Can Help
Sometimes, intrusive thoughts are connected to mental health issues that co-occur with addiction—in cases like this, dual diagnosis treatment is ideal. For example, when treating an addictive disorder in someone with OCD, it’s also imperative to treat the latter’s emotional symptoms.
7 Tips to Help Stop Intrusive Thoughts
1. Understand Why Intrusive Thoughts Disturb You
It’s the thoughts that go against your core values that become intrusive. Understanding your core values will help you understand your unwanted thoughts. You will know why they make you feel afraid or why you’d react negatively to them.
2. Attend to the Intrusive Thoughts
Don’t try to figure out what an intrusive thought means or use tactics to avoid causing harm to others. This causes your mind to pay extra attention to the intrusive thoughts, which is the last thing you want.
3. Don’t Fear the Thoughts
When intrusive thoughts are fear-based, it’s vital not to push them away. Accept that the thought exists, and don’t try to resist the experience. Trying to run and hide from a fearful thought with your feelings of fear qualifies it.
4. Take Intrusive Thoughts Less Personally
Letting go of thoughts is something we do all the time. It shouldn’t differ when it’s a disturbing thought. You know that these intrusive thoughts are not likely to happen.
5. Stop Changing Your Behaviors
Compulsive behavior can manifest when you try to change who you are based on the intrusive thoughts you experience. Intrusive thoughts are inaccurate, so changing your reality to work around it is not a solution.
6. Try Therapy
Through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), patients have to deal with their fears. It’s essentially a treatment for detoxing the mind holistically. Experiential therapy can also benefit those who struggle with intrusive thoughts.
7. Take Medications
Medication for intrusive thoughts comes with mixed reviews. For example, medication for OCD can help regulate serotonin. It can, on the other hand, cause prescription drug addiction. Coping with intrusive thoughts through medication is a decision you must make with your doctor.