Everyone's been commenting on how happy I look. How I'm glowing. But they don't know that I have this underlying anxiety all of the time. it's constant. It never leaves me alone. I'm always on edge. This dull, but loud sense of panic. It's been bad today. I've been reading Imp of the Mind, a book about obsessive bad thoughts, and it's been triggering so many intrusive thoughts. But I don't want to hide from my intrusive thoughts anymore. I'm trying to confront them, but they're getting louder and louder. I feel like doom is approaching and I can't stop it. I'm on medication for my anxiety and it stops the panic attacks but not that underlying sense of panic I always have. And I can't increase my dose because the dose I'm on already makes me exhausted and oversleep. How do you guys manage your anxiety and intrusive thoughts (OCD? Maybe?)
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That’s a tough question! Everyone has their own way of calming their thoughts. For me, I redirect my negative, intrusive thoughts into positive thoughts. I may briefly entertain the intrusive thought, but then it has to go before I begin ruminating over it. If I cannot redirect my thoughts, I employ distraction to take my mind off the intrusive thoughts. Anything you enjoy doing is helpful. I believe that we ultimately have control over our thoughts, but you have to be determined to do so. I may attempt to redirect my thoughts over and over again and when I’m having great difficulty, that’s when I go to distraction. Everyone is different in what works for them. I sincerely hope you can find some peace of mind! 🙂❤️🙂
Redirecting to positive thoughts sounds nice, I’ll try that! I tend to use distraction which does work. I know logically that we have control over our thoughts but I’m not able to control mine yet. Hopefully I learn soon. Thanks so much for all of your help 💖
It sounds like the book is triggering you. Perhaps set it aside for now. You may not be ready to tackle this yet.
It definitely does trigger me but I want to read about intrusive thoughts and not be ashamed of mine anymore. I’m just so used to pushing away my thoughts and being disturbed by them so when I read about it it has power over me. I want to be ready, but maybe I’m not
When my anxiety was highest I had awful intrusive thoughts. It was a nightmare. To be honest it was medication that stopped them. Within a few days of taking Zoloft I didn’t have them, same with Lexapro. I remember how bad they were, crying over the thoughts I would have. Your anxiety must be sky high right now. Maybe you can try a different medication.
I’m on lexapro now which really helps my depression. And then I take Saphris, an antipsychotic, for my anxiety. Believe me, my anxiety is soooo much better than it used to be. My medications saved my life. I used to have panic attacks non stop all day, I couldn’t leave my room, lost all of my friends, forgot how to socialize, dissassociated all the time. It was horrible. Now it’s a constant feeling of panic but it’s manageable. And I can’t increase my dose because I’m on the highest for lexapro and the saphris already makes me exhausted. I’ll go to my psychiatrist soon and tell her the anxiety is back. Maybe I need something new. Thank you so much for responding.
Hi there, when my anxiety hits me, I am the same way. I always find a friend to do something that will keep my mind away from the dark thought. It's always a battle that we have to fight but I am sure you will win it because you are strong. Stay strong my strong strong friend, do not let it takes over you.
Yeah I would love to hang out with friends more. Problem is the friends that live near me are busy all the time 😞. I need to get out more. But going to a DBSA meeting tomorrow so that should help. Thank you so much. Stay strong!
I’ve been the same way for months now... getting a little better. For intrusive thoughts they say not to react to them because they are normal and happen to everyone. I just recently found that out thank God. Now I’m trying not to let it bother me. They also say try not to stop them and expect them to come back. Don’t fuel the fire... I’m trying to work on that
Anger, fantasies, fear, despair, and obsessions -- what is normal and what is not? Is your husband drinking too much? When does sadness become depression? What do those thoughts about your best friend's wife really mean?
By writing this blog we hope to open the door on private worries, and provide informed answers to commonplace questions about what is normal, what is wacky, and what is pathological. Our purpose is to provide an antidote to shame and worry by providing accurate information. If you have a question or something you have been wondering about-write to us. We want to hear from you and would be delighted to post on the topics you most want to hear about.
I'll begin with a topic near and dear to my heart: intrusive thoughts. I am a new mother. I adore my son. He is beautiful and sweet and playful. And, when he was younger, I couldn't stand at the top of my stairs without imagining myself dropping him down the stairs and seeing his tiny, helpless body writhing in pain. Scary image? Yes! Normal? Yes!
These are called intrusive thoughts. They happen to everyone and they can take many forms. Perhaps you've suddenly had the image of pushing someone off a train platform, kicking a dog, yelling in church, jumping out of a moving car, or stabbing someone you love. While doing or wanting to do any of these things is not normal, having intrusive thoughts like these is normal. Sometimes thoughts like these come to us precisely because we do not want to act in this way; they are simply the most inappropriate thing your mind can imagine.
It turns out that trying not to have such thoughts by pushing them out of your mind, can actually make them stick around. This effect was nicely shown by researchers at Harvard University. In their study, they asked people to NOT think of a white bear. Participants were allowed to think about anything they wanted, except a white bear. The problem with taking on this challenge is that our mind wants to constantly check to see how we're doing. We check to see if we are succeeding at NOT thinking of that white bear, and then, oh no, there's the bear.
The very act of monitoring your thoughts for the absence of a thought can make it occur more frequently. When someone becomes very distressed by their intrusive thoughts, goes to great lengths to get rid of them, and prevent them from occurring, this can become a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). People with this "bad thoughts" form of OCD often avoid things that could trigger these thoughts or being in situations where they might be at risk for acting on a thought. So, for example, someone might avoid taking the train, avoid using knives, or avoid holding a baby. In situations in which they can't avoid, they may turn to rituals, such as repetitive counting, or compulsive prayer to prevent anything bad from happening. If this sounds familiar to you, you might have OCD. To find out more, check out ocfoundation.org.
If you think you experience the more garden-variety form of intrusive thoughts-rest assured. They're normal. Next time they occur try to remember that there is a difference between a thought and an action, and don't waste your time trying to push the thought out of your mind. Just let it pop in and roll right out again. And don't hesitate to share the thought with a friend. They can be pretty entertaining (my husband tells me his all the time) and by sharing our experiences we take one more step toward figuring out what's normal.
Michael W. Otto, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Boston University. He is author of Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being.
Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being
Online: Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Website
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