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Recurrent Thoughts, Conflicts and Impulses

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I am a 22 year old Medical Student. The problem I have is recurrent, frustrating thoughts and conflicts and checking and rechecking things. For example, while studying I feel an impulse to check under the bed for any pages I may have dropped. And even after checking, I would feel the impulse again and am not able to overcome it and have to look under the bed again. Similarly while walking I may return and come back a few paces to see if something I saw on the ground is mine not. Also, recently I also started obsessing over things I have done like for example the other day someone said a swearword to me on the net and I kept thinking why I didn’t say anything to him. Then the next day I told him to not curse me again and he said ok but still I keep thinking about it, keep reading the messages again and again for no reason at all, just to see whether I really forbade him from swearing at me or not. Another example of my problem is that when I am studying I may look at a word again and again to see if it is really what my eyes see it to be. I literally stare at each curve or every letter and each period/full stop. I may also stare at a photo on the net again and again to see if the face of the person matches the face of anyone I know, especially to see if it matches the face of a family member of mine. It is very frustrating. Please give me some advice regarding this. Especially since my exams are coming next month and I just want this daily frustration to stop. It’s as if my brain searches for new and new things to frustrate over. I thank you in anticipation of your response.

Recurrent Thoughts, Conflicts and Impulses

Answered by on -


A: I’m sorry you are having these difficulties. I cannot provide an accurate diagnosis without completing a face to face assessment, but the issues you are describing sound similar to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Medical school can be a very demanding and stressful time and it could possible that it is bringing up some underlying issues. There is a chance that you are having an unusual presentation of a stress reaction, especially given the possibility of sleep deprivation. However, it is also possible that you are beginning to display symptoms of a psychological disorder. Either way, it would be a good idea to be evaluated. 

Most universities have student counseling centers so it should be fairly easy to be seen. They may recommend medication or therapy or a combination of both. I hope that you are able to be seen before your next round of exams, but if not, you can do some basic research on your own or get a reputable self-help book to help you in the interim. Good luck with school!

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts

Recurrent Thoughts, Conflicts and Impulses

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). Recurrent Thoughts, Conflicts and Impulses. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 16 Aug 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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