Intrusive Thoughts Regarding Your Relationship
You might find that you obsess about your relationship. Suppose you experience this type of intrusive thought. In that case, it has nothing to do with your relationships quality or how suitable your partner is for you.
Instead, the thoughts you have about your relationship are to do with the obsessions and compulsion that occur within relationship OCD.
These can include thoughts relating to
- Kissing members of your own family.
- Sexualised thoughts regarding family members.
- Intrusive images of family members, for example, naked.
- What if I am attracted to my sister, my brother? etc.
Thoughts Of Harming Someone
Over the past few years, whilst helping other people address their chronic anxiety issues, I have seen many who have experienced the most appalling thoughts that have scared them terribly. Common intrusive thoughts with high anxiety levels are that you may hurt yourself or others, especially those close to you. Several ladies have expressed their suitability as mothers, because they have had a fleeting thought of harming their children in some way. They believe that if they are capable of thinking these thoughts, then they must be capable of carrying out the suggestions of them. One lady was so scared that she asked her husband to take care of the kids as much as possible, and she kept her distance.
I must say at this point, that it is highly unlikely you would ever carry out an action related to these kinds of thoughts and it doesnt mean you are going crazy.
You may actually love your children so much and be feeling worried about your ability to cope. A thought about harming your children could purely be centred around your love for them and a feeling of helplessness.
Handling Guilt And Shame
People with OCD can feel an overwhelming amount of fear and guilt about the intrusive thoughts they experience. They may also experience deep shame, embarrassment, and even self-hatred.
Try to be kind and patient with yourself. Remember that everyone experiences intrusive thoughts at times, and they are not something you are expected to be in control of. It is a good practice to recognize the intrusive thought or feeling you are having, but that does not mean you have to identify with it.
Once you accept that you cannot completely control the thoughts, you can start by building the habit of acknowledging them without letting them take control.
People with OCD can also experience depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions.
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Intrusive Thoughts And Negative Impact On Addiction
Some may manage intrusive thoughts with compulsive coping mechanisms which can include alcohol or drug abuse. In an effort to not cope with unwanted thoughts, a person may take part in destructive behaviors. Trying to stop the feelings altogether can cause a person to chronically use drugs or drink, leading to addiction.
In a study by the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, they estimate that over 25% of patients with OCD meet the criteria for a substance abuse disorder. Most OCD symptoms begin to occur in childhood or early adolescence and cause the development of drug or alcohol problems.
Having to cope with intrusive thoughts can cause depression, anxiety, and irrational fears. When treating an addictive disorder in someone who has OCD, its imperative to also treat emotional symptoms of OCD.
Treating the gamut of mood disorders that occur with addiction as well as OCD at the same time as when you treat your substance abuse disorder is essential. When these mental disorders are treating individually, the disorder left untreated can often cause a relapse soon after.
For instance, if you go into addiction treatment without treating your OCD, the obsessive thoughts of your OCD will make it much harder to abstain from using once you get out of the rehab program.
This is whats known as dual diagnosis when a substance addiction overlaps with another mental disorder like depression, anxiety, or OCD.
Myth : A Person Wants To Act On These Thoughts
Fact: People do not want to act on their intrusive thoughts
According to the ADAA, the opposite is true. The most dangerous myth surrounding intrusive thoughts is that they will lead to action.
Those experiencing these thoughts typically work hard to fight them, which results in the thoughts becoming persistent. The thoughts are at odds with the nature of the person thinking them.
Intrusive Thoughts Dont Equate To Wanted Actions
When the day finally came to see the psychiatrist, I blurted out everything I was thinking and feeling. I was diagnosed with a panic disorder, a mental illness Id never heard of before, and put on a daily dose of 10 milligrams of Lexapro, an antidepressant, which I still take to this day.
Then, when I mentioned the terrifying thoughts I was having, she provided me with the relief and clarity I needed. She explained that I was experiencing intrusive thoughts, which are totally normal.
In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that an estimated 6 million Americans experience intrusive thoughts.
The ADAA defines intrusive thoughts as stuck thoughts that cause great distress. These thoughts can be violent, socially unacceptable, or just out of character.
The difference in my case was that, due to my panic disorder, I was fixating on these thoughts, whereas others might be like, Oh, that was weird and brush them off. Its no surprise given that my panic disorder itself is composed of anxiety, panic, low-grade depressive episodes, and obsessive tendencies. When you obsess over intrusive thoughts, it can be debilitating.
The American Psychological Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition defines obsessions as recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance as intrusive and inappropriate, and that cause marked anxiety and distress.
Intrusive Bizarre Thoughts When Anxious
People who are chronically anxious are in a highly sensitive state. They are over sensitive to comments made by others, their own thoughts and equally to their own fearful reactions. Everything is magnified in the mind of an anxiety disorder sufferer.
Chronic high levels of anxiety produce many physical symptoms that a person is not comfortable with. The sufferers are often only aware that they are trying to control the physical manifestations of their anxiety. When intrusive thoughts start popping up uninvited, sufferers will begin to think that they must be going crazy and definitely out of control. Already tired from the physical repercussions of their anxiety, they often find the thoughts the hardest thing of all to accept and deal with.
The thoughts can be the weirdest and most frightening thoughts you can imagine. They feel totally out of place and shock a sufferer. Years ago when I had panic disorder and was exhausted and sensitive, I would get strange thoughts popping up quite regularly.
This is just one example of many such thoughts I had. I believed in all of these sudden scary thoughts and felt totally unable to stop them.
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How To Take The Power Back From Intrusive Thought Ocd
Step 1: See Through OCDs Scare Tactics
OCD is the fear network of the brain sending a signal that something is wrong and needs to be done about it IMMEDIATELY. OCD only reports on feared consequences that are important to a person. For example, if somebody does not fear spilling water on the floor, OCD will not send the intrusive thought, Oh no you spilled water. You must clean it up IMMEDIATELY. On the other hand if someone does care about the safety of her family, OCD might say, Oh no you left the stove on. You must go back and check IMMEDIATELY or the most important people in your life will die and it will be all your fault. Similarly, if you care deeply about your family’s well-being or your students safety, OCD may inject itself into your awareness with the thought Oh no. What if I lose control and harm my children or students.
My clients always ask me what it means about them that they could have such horrible thoughts. What I tell them is that somewhere within an obsession is the flip side of a core value. If OCD taunts you with images and thoughts about offending god, then religion must be important to you. If OCD reviews all the ways your family could be hurt, then your family is clearly one of your top priorities.
Step 2: Exposure and Response Prevention
Step 3: Get Support
Dr. Kissen and Dr. Ashley D. Kendall, PhD presented a live webinar on this topic on March 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm ET.
This webinar shares tips and tools to:
Cause Your Own Anxiety
Finally, another thing you can try with the approval of your therapist is the idea of causing the anxiety yourself – in other words, purposely think about the thing that causes you that much distress.
The idea behind this is called behavioral habituation. If you stop fighting the thought and start experiencing it as often as possible on purpose, the thought will eventually become less stressful .
If it’s something you can do, like get your hands dirty, leave a light on, purposefully mess-up your apartment, etc., then you do it so that you get used to what the anxiety feels like and learn to fear the anxiety less. If it’s something that you simply think to yourself, like distressing thoughts, then try to trigger these thoughts intentionally, until you accept that they have no real meaning and allow yourself to find them less irritating.
It’s often best to do these in the presence of a professional, because this type of technique may not be right for everyone. Nevertheless, it’s been shown that the more you grapply with and accept the anxieties, the easier they may be to handle.
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Religious Thoughts That Disturb
These include inappropriate sexual thoughts regarding religious people or figures. Swearing during prayer or worship. Strong urges to misbehave during services.
Most people that I work with find it difficult to see these as harmless thoughts. They are more than likely to see them sign that something must be wrong with them to have such ideas.
Or even believe the thoughtsWhy would I be having them if I havent done..? They are just thoughts.
Talk It Out And Dont Rule Out Therapy
Many people feel ashamed to admit theyre having intrusive thoughts or even experience feelings of guilt related to them. They attempt to deal with their thoughts on their own and keep them hidden from others.
However, talking through your feelings with someone you trust can be extremely beneficial. By being open and vulnerable about how youre feeling and what youre experiencing, you may develop a whole new perspective on your situation.
For some people, talking to a stranger can be easier than talking to someone you know. In this scenario, therapy can be a good option. There are many types of therapy available both in individual and group settings. Do your research and take time to evaluate all of your options.
Intrusive thoughts happen to us all from time to time. With a little bit of focus and commitment, you can overcome your intrusive thoughts. Your success depends on your ability to fight the urge to worry and obsess over them.
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Are Eating Disorders Related To Intrusive Thoughts
People who struggle with eating disorders experience intrusive thoughts on an ongoing basis relating to food, control, and body image. They constantly think about food, calories, and the impact on their body. The obsessive thoughts lead to distress when it comes to food and eating, which has a severe impact on their body.
You Are Not Your Thoughts
The intrusive thoughts you experience are not necessarily a reflection of who you are, but when they become obsessive, they can be influenced by the things that cause you the most worry and anxiety.
Moreover, your thoughts do not necessarily say anything about you. Having a bad thought does not mean that you are a bad person.
Try to remember that intrusive thoughts do not always align with your core values, beliefs, and morals. In fact, OCD thoughts tend to attack and focus on the things that offend you.
The same can be true for intrusive thoughts that cause fear, which tend to be based on what you are most concerned about .
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Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts & needing To Know For Sure
Have you ever stood on the edge of a train platform, minding your own business, and then, suddenly, out of the blue, for no apparent reason, had the thought I could jump in front of the train or I could push that guy off the platform? Or have you been taking care of a baby and suddenly had a revolting intrusive thought like “What if I throw the baby down the stairs” or “What if I touch the baby’s genitals?” Almost everyone has passing thoughts that are frightening, disgusting, bizarre or just plain ridiculous. There is nothing odd about this. But some people have passing thoughts like these that somehow get stuck and start repeating themselves, forming elaborate chains of internal dialogue in an attempt to counteract the thoughts or prevent what seem like potentially impulsive actions. These unwanted intrusive thoughts become obsessive, demand attention, provoke fear and shame, and often lead to doubts about sanity, control, motives, character and safety. They may prompt a sufferer to wonder if there is some dark and dangerous mystery within them: “Am I a psychopath? A child molester? A potential murderer? Am I unconsciously suicidal? Having these thoughts must mean something terrible about who I am!”
Ocd And Intrusive Thoughts
If youre suffering from OCD, intrusive thoughts can cause you to overreact. At a cellular level, the brain sends signals that something is wrong and it needs to be tended to right away. And while it may be clear to others that these fears and obsessive thoughts are unfounded and many intrusive OCD thoughts are not real, to the person experiencing them, the fear and dread are as real as can be.
The fears that develop through the thoughts happen only with things that are important to the person. The basis is different for every OCD patient.
Intrusive thoughts from OCD examples include fear of loss in the family, fear of being killed or killing someone else, and other intense end results. For someone who is nonclinical OCD, intrusive thoughts affect them much less. The level of emotional distress resulting from thoughts is a criterion for OCD.
If youre suffering from intrusive thoughts from obsessive-compulsive disorder, youre probably wondering just how to get rid of OCD and stop intrusive thoughts from taking over your life.
The most well-documented type of CBT for OCD is Exposure and Response Prevention according to the International OCD Foundation.
In the end, though, getting professional treatment is often the absolute best way of finding out how to overcome OCD intrusive thoughts.
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