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When unwanted thoughts suddenly occur, they can be very disturbing. You may wonder if having these thoughts means that you will act on them. They can also cause you great stress and anxiety. Understanding the potential causes as well as how to get rid of unwanted thoughts is important for your mental health.

Sudden, Involuntary Thoughts

Everyone experiences involuntary thoughts occasionally. Unwanted thoughts, also referred to as intrusive thoughts, can come on suddenly. These involuntary thoughts can be disturbing and distressing for some people. They can be explicit, in terms of violence or sexual acts, leading the individual who has them to feel ashamed. Generally, though, they are just thoughts and they do not mean that the person experiencing them will act on them.

These unwanted thoughts are involuntary and have no bearing on a person’s real desires or values. In fact, the person experiencing these thoughts will usually find them shocking and unacceptable. The shame associated with these thoughts can keep the individual from seeking help for them, though.

Symptoms of a Mental Health Condition

Although the cause of intrusive thoughts is unclear in some cases, unwanted thoughts could be a symptom of a condition affecting your mental health. Intrusive thoughts are among the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Obsessive thoughts are one of the major symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). An individual with PTSD has developed the condition following a traumatic event. Their unwanted thoughts can be frightening, causing a state of hyperarousal that can lead to disturbing flashbacks.

How to Get Rid of Unwanted Thoughts

These thoughts are persistent. Often, the harder you try to get rid of them, the more they persist. They will probably also become more intense. There are some steps you can take to shift your attitude and to get rid of unwanted thoughts.

First, label the thoughts as “intrusive thoughts.” Then you can remind yourself that they occur involuntarily. Whether or not you have them is not up to you. As the thoughts enter your mind, do not try to push them out. Do not try to figure out what they mean and don’t engage with them in any way.

Take a deep breath and allow the thoughts to pass. Allow the anxiety associated with the thought to pass. Expect the thoughts to return but know that you are prepared to deal with them. Eventually, they will reduce in frequency. Continue whatever you were doing prior to having the unwanted thought without giving it any regard as to its effect on you.

These steps can be difficult at first. The more you apply them, the better your chance of seeing a decrease in the frequency and the intensity of the unwanted thoughts. Reducing your sensitivity to the content of your thoughts can help you get rid of them.

Treatment for Unwanted Thoughts

The best way to manage your unwanted thoughts is to seek professional treatment. A mental health provider can help you with therapy options and other methods of addressing your thoughts as well as the anxiety and depression that can accompany them.

Proven treatment methods include cognitive behavioral therapy, a way for you to discuss your distressing thoughts and their impact on your life. You will have the opportunity to learn healthy responses to your thoughts through these sessions.

Other treatment options include Gestalt therapy and meditation. Becoming more aware of your body and mind helps you release tension as you develop a spirit of calm. De-stressing is one of the main objectives of meditation therapy.

You can also learn how to get rid of unwanted thoughts by using self-care techniques. Managing your stress in a healthy way can help you see your thoughts as just thoughts, recognizing that they are not the same as behavior or intent. When you seek professional treatment, you can develop active coping strategies that will improve your mental health so you can live a more fulfilling life.

Hope by the Sea is Here to Help

If you or someone you love is dealing with mental health issues, the professionals at Hope by the Sea are here to help. We are a southern California mental health and addiction treatment center, focused on helping men and women begin the journey of recovery from mood disorders and addiction. We specialize in treating you as a whole individual, so you can embrace your recovery with as much support and momentum as possible. When you need help treating your mental health or substance use disorder, we offer the dual diagnosis treatment program you need. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!