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Intrusive Thoughts Explained

Intrusive thoughts are thoughts that go through everyone's minds every once in a while. We all have them at some point in our lives, whether it's during a stressful life situation or during a major transition in life. These thoughts can be just about anything and are very random; however, most of them lean towards negativity. If these thoughts last a while and do not leave your mind, then it is time to seek help.

Some Characteristics of Intrusive Thoughts:

  • Very frequent

  • Cause a significant amount of stress

  • Cause a lot of anxiety

  • Thoughts are involuntary

  • Can be explicit

  • Can be very persistent

Common Types of Intrusive Thoughts

Religious Intrusive Thoughts

  • Constantly questioning your faith

  • Feeling disconnected from God or religion

  • Obsessively repeating certain prayers

  • Feeling that God will never forgive you

Sexual intrusive thoughts

  • Worrying that you're attracted to close family members

  • Concerns of being attracted to children

  • Fears or doubts about sexual orientation

Violent intrusive thoughts

  • Thoughts about using dangerous items to harm others

  • Thoughts about killing others

  • Thoughts about harming family members or children

As mentioned intrusive thoughts are involuntary and the person experiencing them does not want to act on these thoughts. They are bothersome and cause a lot of stress, but some of these thoughts have no real meaning. They do not need to be examined and analyzed.

What Causes Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are connected to the disorder Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is known for its obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Further, some people who have experienced some kind of trauma in their life also become prone to having intrusive thoughts. This can sometimes come with the disorder Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In some other instances, there is no known cause for these intrusive thoughts.

Treatment Options Available for Intrusive Thoughts

You do not have to live with intrusive thoughts forever. You are not alone and there is help for these thoughts. One of the most effective treatment methods for intrusive thoughts is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT helps by allowing you to change how you think and react to these intrusive thoughts. For situations where CBT isn't effective, there are medications known to help reduce OCD and help make life more manageable.

Takeaway About Intrusive Thoughts

  • Remember these thoughts are involuntary

  • Identify that these thoughts are intrusive

  • Don't try to push them away

  • Keep going with daily life. Don't allow the thoughts to put a pause in your life

  • Don't analyze them, just let them be.

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