Are Intrusive Thoughts Normal?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I keep having horrible anxiety and thoughts. Okay so im 17 and I keep experiencing intrusive thoughts. They happened when I was sick and in bed for a few days and I was by myself and my mind was wandering to all sorts of places but the thoughts are horrible and violent/sexual and just all around vile. I would never hurt a fly let alone act on these thoughts but I wanna know why I’m having them? I heard it’s from OCD and anxiety, and I know I have anxiety. When these thoughts appear in my mind I don’t know how to control them and I can’t breathe and start to cry and it’s horrible. I’m afraid if I tell a therapist they’re gonna lock me up or something? What if I act on these thoughts? I’m so scared and don’t know what to do. I don’t wanna act on them. I don’t eat or sleep anymore because they’re taking over my life. Please give me advice. Thank you.

A. Intrusive thoughts are abnormal. They may be indicative of an anxiety disorder. People with anxiety disorders often feel out of control. Intrusive thoughts are symptoms of at least one type of anxiety disorder called obsessive compulsive disorder. The intrusive thoughts may cause panic attacks.

It’s imperative that you report your symptoms to your therapist. Your therapist is not “going to lock you up.” By “locking you up,” I am assuming you meant being hospitalized against your will, which is referred to as involuntary commitment. There are very strict standards for involuntary commitment. In the majority of cases, individuals can only be held against their will when they are overtly suicidal or homicidal. You have not described yourself as either of those.

The most effective resolution to this problem is to report these symptoms to your therapist. Counseling could help you learn how to reduce intrusive thoughts and panic attacks.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Effective treatments exist for anxiety disorders, but in order for you to be helped you must report your symptoms. Your fears are common and understandable, but your therapist is there to help you. The sooner that you report your symptoms, the sooner you will gain control over your symptoms and resume a normal life. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Apr 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Are Intrusive Thoughts Normal?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/04/04/are-intrusive-thoughts-normal/