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How To Stop Intrusive Thoughts

Image symbolizing how to stop intrusive thoughts

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be viewed as the most elevated form of anxiety. It is a challenging condition to live with that may affect all parts of life. Sadly, many people with OCD turn to substance abuse as a way to cope. If this is the case for you or a loved one, consider a mental health care program that offers dual diagnosis for OCD and addiction. By working on both issues simultaneously, you can reduce the odds that future difficulties in one area will trigger issues in the other. Do you know how to stop intrusive thoughts? If not, call Northpoint Seattle at 888.483.6031 to learn more about our dual diagnosis program in Washington State.

Tips for How to Control Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are mental imagery or inner monologues that bring about distress. They often have violent, moral, or sexual overtones and do not reflect actual behavioral plans on the part of the thinker. Intrusive thoughts come about for many reasons and everyone experiences them from time to time. They often increase during periods of poor sleep, elevated stress or anxiety, or cognitive fatigue. Sometimes, intrusive thoughts trigger corresponding compulsions or ritualistic behaviors intended to reduce distress. When a person grapples with intrusive thoughts and compulsions for more than an hour a day, a formal OCD diagnosis may be possible.

The good news is that, no matter how long you’ve lived with OCD, the condition tends to respond well to treatment. The following approaches may be helpful if intrusive thoughts and compulsions are part of your daily life:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – This form of talk therapy helps clients learn to identify and reframe negative self-talk.
  • Exposure and response prevention (ERP) – A subset of CBT, ERP engages clients in a gradual acclimation process to feared stimuli. For example, if a client’s OCD centers on a preoccupation with germs, their therapist may systematically help them tolerate greater and greater contact with surfaces presumed “dirty” without immediately resorting to handwashing or sanitization.
  • Mindfulness practices – Mindfulness, the ancient technique of directing awareness to the present moment, can be a powerful tool in working with intrusive thoughts. The brain naturally produces many random, unrelated thoughts all the time. Mindfulness helps clients detach significance from these mental contents. This can help them let go of fear and self-judgment and continually and gently return to the here and now.
  • Medication – Although many cases of OCD can be treated through talk therapy alone, medication is also sometimes helpful. Most commonly, antidepressants are used alongside behavioral therapy.

If you are wondering, ” How do I stop intrusive thoughts?” Northpoint Seattle can help. Contact our staff at 888.483.6031 to learn more.

How Controlling Intrusive Thoughts Can Boost Quality of Life

OCD, left untreated, can feel quite debilitating. Many people with the condition end up severely restricting their relationships, careers, hobbies, and time outside the home. As a potent form of anxiety, OCD is essentially deep-seated and pervasive fear. Intrusive thoughts tend to be worst-case scenario-oriented, and feelings of guilt and responsibility are embedded. For instance, a person with OCD may perform rituals to “protect” their loved ones from terrible projected outcomes. For instance, they may compulsively check their stove to make sure it’s off, thus preventing a fatal gas leak or explosion that would be “all their fault.”

Needless to say, such disturbing mental contents can be quite debilitating when they are frequent and difficult to control. Getting effective professional treatment helps in many ways. First and foremost, they gain greater access to calm, self-regulation, and happiness. They can then begin to engage with their lives in larger and more meaningful ways. For instance, they may be able to engage in many work or leisure activities they could not previously access.

An increase in relationship health is also a common benefit of treatment. For people with relational OCD (R-OCD), a great tax is often taken on loved ones who are directly pulled into the ritual behaviors of their struggling loved ones. Getting help thus aids not only the person with OCD but their whole support system.

Finally, some forms of OCD cause actual physical damage. For instance, excessive showering or handwashing is a common compulsion due to intrusive thoughts related to contamination, disease, and germs. Excessive washing or exposure to harsh sanitizers can severely damage skin over time. OCD can also severely impact sleep. The rest cycle is essential to optimal functioning so getting help can boost everything from organ function and digestion to blood pressure and cognitive capacity.

Get More Help with Addiction Recovery and Managing Intrusive Thoughts by Contacting Northpoint Seattle Today

Don’t wait to seek help for intrusive thought regulation and compulsion control. You are not alone if you’re coping with OCD symptoms. The disorder is widespread and assumes many forms and levels of severity. Get support today at Northpoint Seattle if you think you or your loved one could use a helping hand. Call 888.483.6031 or fill out our confidential online contact form to get started.