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Repetitive Thoughts

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Often I’m troubled with specific lines from song verses and insults towards myself that get repeated in my head over and over again. Sometimes it won’t stop for forty five minutes to an hour. It happens at random times. For example, i’ll wake up in the morning with only the first line of a chorus stuck in my head and it’ll just keep repeating until it fades away on its own. The insults: I feel if I don’t repeatedly say them to myself out loud they’ll just repeat in my head like the song lyric. The insults are explicit and I don’t mean to call myself such derogatory things but I feel like they’re being directed at me by someone else in my head. I have to keep repeating them until I feel I don’t need to anymore. I do have terrible anxiety and both issues get worse when I’m more anxious than my baseline level of anxiety that’s always with me. I never feel like there’s a quiet moment in my head. Everything circulates so quickly that sometimes I can’t grab onto a full thought and I end up confusing myself on what i’m thinking or how i’m feeling. I can only sleep after I stay up so late that I exhaust myself completely and that’s when some of my brain slows down. I never know how i’m going to wake up feeling or “who”, in a sense, i’m going to wake up as. I feel as if that confusion also stems from the  rapid fire of thoughts always in my head. One moment i’m thinking of a fun memory, the next instant i’m thinking of death, then philosophy, then my future, then video games, then literature . . . it just goes on and on like someone repeatedly opens an encyclopedia, randomly points to a definition, then immediately flips to a different page and randomly chooses another definition before I could read the first definition. I’m never long on one thought. Could this be a product of anxiety? It’s both advantageous and bothersome as it makes me a quick thinker but not very good at focusing; it’s hard to read and I’ve got another semester coming this September. Everything’s only getting worse. (age 20, from US)

Repetitive Thoughts

Answered by on -


Believe it or not, I have the same issue with songs running through my head, so if you find a cure for that, please let me know. ;-) You mention that you have terrible anxiety, but you don’t mention whether or not you are receiving professional help for it, so I will assume that you aren’t (if you are, please be sure to speak with your treating provider).

I think that the problems you have listed here could be related to anxiety or attention-deficit disorder, but it’s hard to say for certain without evaluating further. There are many things you can do on your own to slow your thoughts down and feel more peaceful. Learning some form of mindfulness meditation will help immensely. If you have trouble with the “sitting” meditation you can try yoga, tai chi or qigong, to name only a few. These techniques not only help us become more in tune with our body, but they can help quiet our mind.

I would also suggest that you look into purchasing a self-help book or workbook on cognitive psychology interventions, and begin keeping a journal about the content of your thoughts. Once you have identified the negative patterns that arise, you can then replace the negative thoughts with ones that are more positive and affirming.

Finally, if these techniques don’t bring you enough relief, I would suggest consulting with a therapist or psychiatrist for further evaluation.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts

Repetitive Thoughts

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). Repetitive Thoughts. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 4 Sep 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.