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Frightening Thoughts - Fear Losing Control - Please Help!

Question:

hello, I’m a 23 year old male. For many years I have occasionally felt what i would describe as a "creepy dark cloud" over me. This feeling typically comes on only in the later evening hours before bed. I just don’t feel "right" at such times, although I am able to function normally, just as if i were simply in a ‘bad mood’. It is a very foreboding feeling. Back to normal when i wake up in the morning. A few months ago i had a bad day, and experienced some sort of an "attack" in which i felt like i was losing my sanity; slipping from my grip of reality briefly. I felt like i needed to speak with someone immediately – someone to ground me. I felt like i was losing control over myself. In recent months since then, I’ve begun to struggle with intrusive thoughts which often involve the worst things i can imagine. The idea will occur to me to kill someone I love, or a friend, or myself. I am *extremely* troubled by these dark thoughts and feelings. I feel so guilty, like a monster. I try to redirect myself, but sometimes that is of little comfort…These thoughts seem to be the product of my own mind – I’ve never had any auditory or visual hallucinations that I am aware of. No dreams of murderous acts or anything like that, either. i feel like whatever is wrong with me preys on my greatest fears. These thoughts represent the antithesis of what I *want to be*. I don’t think I am capable of ever hurting anyone, but I am very disturbed by these intrusive ideas. I hesitate to call them compulsions, but there is an element of that, I think. in recent weeks, i have improved a bit for no apparent reason. I’ve finally started to feel "normal" again on most days. Please, any thoughts or educated guesses you could offer would be really appreciated. I’m so scared that I’ve begun to slip into some psychotic zone here. What all might be wrong with me?

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Answer:

This could be a lot of things. If you want to know what it is definitively (more or less) then please make an appointment with a psychiatrist to talk about what is happening. all I can do is speculate, and that is not a substitute for the attention of a physician who is able to interview you and make a diagnosis.

You say that you’ve experienced a mood swing towards the depressive direction in the evenings for many years. You further suggest that you’ve had a temporary exacerbation of mood disturbance characterized by what I guess is experienced as anger and homicidal thoughts, though this is not typical for you to think this way. Importantly, these seem to be your own thoughts, and are not experienced as though someone else is talking to you. That suggests that this is not probably a full-on psychotic phenomenon. The whole thing is what is sometimes called "ego dystonic", meaning that you are thinking in a way that clashes with your normal self-concept and it feels deeply wrong.

These things could be pointing to your experiencing a relatively simple depressive episode, although only a doctor can rule out other important possibilities, including the more remote possibility of a neurological (brain) problem, or the beginning of something like a psychotic disorder (so go see a psychiatrist medical doctor, please). Depressive episodes can take on different forms, and though most are about feeling very sad and low energy, some are more about feeling irritable and quick to anger. Suicidal thinking is common in such episodes, but homicidal thinking can occur too. Depressed people can become psychotic in their own right, but you seem to be falling short of that, at least so far. My guess is that you have used the term psychotic because of the "Jekyll and Hyde" ego dystonic quality to your thought process while in the episode. But just because you feel like you are going psychotic, doesn’t mean you are psychotic. Psychotic is what happens when you can no longer distinguish your own thoughts from someone else’s thoughts.

Not that it is particularly normal to walk around wanting to kill people, but the thought does occur to a lot of people with some frequency. It’s not a weird thought, is what I’m saying. A weird thought is something like when people believe that the television is talking to them personally, giving them orders on how they personally are to behave (what is called a "delusion or idea of reference"). But people who aren’t comfortable with the more aggressive sides of their own nature can be frightened by such thoughts when they pop up. In a similar vein, many people will experience attractions to the same sex at some point in their lives, but just because this is experienced a couple times doesn’t mean that those people are homosexual in sexual orientation. Homosexuality is what is happening when someone is attracted in that manner consistently. Just keep in mind that just because you think of something that doesn’t mean that you have to act on it.

You use the word obsession in your letter, and that may be an issue for you. A true obsession is a thought that comes into your head that you can’t let go of. Sometimes such thoughts take on such force and repetition that people feel compelled to act them out, which then becomes a compulsion. You are maybe reporting an instance of obsessive thinking (in the Obsessive-Compulsive anxiety disorder sort of spectrum manner), but if that is so, it is occurring in the context of your mood episode and not as a normal part of your experience. Depression is often characterized by a somewhat obsessive thought process, what is often called rumination, so this isn’t such a shock either. the only non-standard part here is that normally, rumination in depression is about the failings of the self, rather than the desire to harm others.

I do think this is something you should get checked out, so once again I will suggest that you make an appointment with a psychiatrist for evaluation and possibly for treatment. but I also don’t think you need to panic, particularly in regard to the ego dystonic part of this story. You don’t have to act on such troubling thoughts; keep that in mind. And sometimes, people who do keep that in mind can find themselves moving from a position of fear and guilt, to a position of acceptance but not endorsement, which helps them to feel less panicked about the whole thing; half the battle right there.

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Comments
  • Irene

    I didn't particularly see anger in the writer's note associated with the homicidal thoughts. What I do see are thoughts of doing something that is the opposite of what is truly desired. It reminds me of something I've read about called "scrupulosity" which is a classification of obsessive/compulsive disorder. You feel compelled to think the worst action you could possibly do and then obsess over the guilt?

  • The Writer

    Thank you very much for your thoughts, Dr. Dombeck.

    And thanks Irene - you are very right - anger has little to do with it, aside from anger at myself at times. I have no anger towards the people who are harmed in my intrusive thoughts - quite the opposite. Again, these thoughts are the antithesis of what I (as I know myself) desires to see happen. In fact I fearfully obsess over the death of family memebers - it's my worst nightmare. I would rather kill myself than hurt anyone, especially the people in these thoughts. I think I will take the doctors advice to seek professional help, despite the fact that I am still doing much better.

    I also have all of the symptoms of manic/depressive type 2, word for word. I'm quite the headcase, haha.

    If it wasn't for crazy, I wouldn't be anything at all )

  • 'Matt'

    If the original writer reads this, can you please get in touch?? There's something Id really like to ask you about this, as Im also in a very similar position.

    Thanks,
    'Matt'

    shadowsfall1986@hotmail.co.uk

  • Wren

    Aloha brother, I hope that your condition has improved. I sympathize and empathize completely. When I read your account of what you have been going through it could not have sounded more familiar. I too have experienced what seems like exactly what you are going through. It's been going on for about a month now and it is characterized by a "dark cloud or creepy feeling" with reoccuring, obsessive homicidal and suicidal thoughts, followed by extreme feelings of guilt leading to a depression. I have had obsessive thoughts and visions of killing some of the people I hold most dear to me. Most of the time it feels like I am battling with my own mind to try and intercept and change the thoughts to positive ones, which can seem challenging sometimes. I seem to come up against a strange resistance. This is all so strange and shocking for me because this is not my nature. I am usually very kind, compassionate and unconditionally loving and was working towards starting a healing practice. I considered myself more positive and loving than most. Durring this phenomena at times it has if I have two sides, I have even felt as if I had two light bodies battling for territory inside my body. It all began when I had a vision of being possesed by dark spirits during an ayahuasca ceremony. When they entered my body all the colors in my perception shifted from bright vibrant tones to greyish and brownish hues. I felt cold and heavy, I was able to send a couple of them to the light but I have reason to believe that one never left. Since then these symptoms have been occuring. I have reason to believe that these types of symptoms may actually be caused by discarnate beings that can enter through our chakras and influence our thoughts/feelings and behaviours. I am in the process of finding some alternative help from mediums and people who can perform entity clearings from the chakra system for this conditon, I am still battling at this point and have yet to find the professional help I need. I recommend at least looking into the possiblility and finding a healer who specializes in this type of energy/entity clearing work, it's worth looking into, you might be able to heal this without pharmacuticals. I pray for your healing, may your life be filled with blessings love and light. Please feel free to contact me if you need someone to talk to, you're not alone. Maybe we can help each other work through this. One love

  • Rose

    My nine year old son has confided in me that he was having the same dark scary thoughts as the rest of you. I dismissed it as to many video games containing some level of violence. After reading your comments I'm thinking there may be more to it. Helped him to know others are having the same feelings and are not acting on them either.

  • Matt

    Hey, Matt here again.

    Ive had a few people contact me with questions about this topic, and Ive spotted a few DEFINITE patterns with regards to what could be causing or contributing to this condition.

    If anyone has any questions or comments about this issue then please dont hesitate to get in touch: shadowsfall1986@hotmail.co.uk

    This is one of my multiple email addresses due to security reasons, so I cant guarantee how soon I'll reply, but I WILL get back to you.

    All the best,
    Matt

  • OCD

    What you are experiencing seems to be a form of OCD. I have the same problem and had been tormented for 7 years before finally discovering what it was. If you have a history of compulsive behaviors or anxiety, we are in the same boat. They supposedly don't really mean anything, these thoughts I mean. You are not alone, and you can find help. I hope you have made this discovery on your own or that you return to this board.

    My sincere best wishes to you, and you are not a bad person

  • Anonymous-1

    Read Bondage Breaker by neil anderson

  • annonymous

    Well, reading your letter has made me less worried, because at least I know someone else who has, I think, the same thing as I have had over the past 2 months. I had just seen a terrible news story on t.v before i went to bed and that's when it all started. I was sad about it ofcourse and then for a split second i had this thought where i thought I could do the same as the horrid person in the news story. I am only young and would never ever do anything horrid or nasty to anyone ! so i was shocked at myself but it kept coming back in my mind when i didnt even want to carry it on. And then more horrid thoughts kept coming and coming and i felt sick. (i hope you dont mind such a long comment by the way ) It gradually started to go away over 2 weeks then I had another bad 'episode' and started shaking because i felt so shocked by my thoughts. I tried to 'combat' these thoughts my thinking of my favourite things but then somehow my mind twisted even my nice thoughts in to horrid thoughts- which made me very upset. I felt like i was going mad. I also felt like I had to talk to someone to distract my mind. I've wanted to tell my parents about it but I can't because they'll just think im mad. :( Everyday I try to convince myself that it's going away but it has never completely gone away and it's just terrible. It's even started coming in to my dreams. I don't think this comment has helped you?? But at least you know someone else has had something similar. Try not to worry about it and say to yourself you don't like the thoughts. Sorry I'm not a major help, hope it goes away a.s.a.p!!!! -)

  • Mozes

    It's nice to see that others have the same problem as me, at least for the most part. But obviously this dosn't solve anything. But there is still a part of me that feels like not giving up.

    This is all new to me because it's only been heppening for the past few weeks. I'm terrified all day about losing my mind and how exactly can someone just go crazy. I obsess over this thought intentionally and sometimes they just pop up in my head. The problem is that it wont ever stop. I fear any mental problem there is because these thoughts are not "me". Like others, I also was just a nice careing pretty much care free kind of guy. I got scared sometimes when things were happening and sometimes I got sad when something bad happened. However, I always found a way out of it somehow (and a part of me saying that this is probably just a phase). I looked up pretty much all the anxiety disorders and panic sysmtoms I could find, and wonder to myself.... "why is it so hard to just be okay?". I often tell myself that these are just thoughts and they can't hurt me. I had thoughts of sucide and homicide before and I'm quite sure that I would never do anything like that. I even went as far as testing it to myself.

    Please try not to be conserned about what I'm about to say. But this one time I got a knife and held it to my hand and I went into deep thought of what would make me want to do this to myself? I didn't have the will to do it. I was too afraid. The same goes with hurting others, I simply can't do it. I mean for example I can't even pop the zits on my girlfriends back because I know how much it hurts. So I know I couldn't just kill someone out of the blue if I thought about it too much. Maybe reading that can help others.

    Anyway, during these past few weeks of none stop suffering, I noticed there were times when I felt better (not often but I remember thinking clearly and normaly like I was my old self again). I could even think about my obsession and not have it bother me. At least for a while. But I even got so bad where I was thinking about this obsession of going crazy that I just started screaming and yelling and shaking and sometimes hitting things (things that I knew that wouldn't break). After that (I think it was a panic attack) I noticed that I almost felt better because I noticed that I was in compleat control. I stoped screaming and shaking and noticed that I didn't lose my mind.

    Well I'm not sure if I'm getting better or worse because it's all new to me, but it has deffinetly been a learning expeirence. I'm still here today and tomarrow is another day. Please someone talk to me because I enjoy hearing that others are going through the same thing as I am.

  • sympathetic mind

    There are many of us that suffer from this. If someone has had the courage to seek help and are in the process of getting help i would sure like to talk to you. Just remember thoughts and actions are not directly linked. And also remember that it is impossible to control your thoughts for long periods of time.

  • THANK GOD

    This might help a few people.

    I am a 44 year old man, that has also been having these intrusive thoughts about my daughter who is 4, these were driving me to break down in public and other stupid symptoms. i also have had thoughts about punching my grandad who is 89 who i love dearly (how sad is that) amongst other stupid things i even had real big urges to do things like throw a full cup of tea at my new £2000 tv now how stupid is that.

    Now here is the thing i went for a mental assesment and was told that there was something physical not mentally wrong (i had to laugh at this statement) so of to the doctors i went armed with my new info. Blood test after blood test suddenly revealed the i had become a coeliac (gluten / wheat allergy) immediately i stoped eating these bad products my horrid thoughts had gone and i started to feel really good again better than i had felt for years, and still going strong. You dont have to have any other symptoms either which is crazy.

    Please check out the coeliac websites and you will be amazed what mental symptoms it can cause

    If this helps anybody i will be really happy, because i have been through hell and it sounds like you all have to

    Thanks

  • mozes

    Hi mate, its me again the coeliac.

    You keep hanging on in there mate, you are going through exactly what i went through before i was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. I am not saying this is what you have but its a process of finding out whats wrong with you, i have also been told that a dairy allergy can cause this as well. its a shot in the dark mate but reading your comment sounds just like i was

    hope this helps

  • the confiscated soul

    Hi guys

    I have suffered from this malady for years and still cant say with certainity that I have recovered but only one shrink could diagnose my "apparent insanity" as OCD and medication is helpful. Pls feel free to share your thoughts and concerns with me and lets all work together to free ourselves from this devil's workshop because , we are not psychotic even tho we fearfuly feel we are. Love and god bless

  • Stephanie

    Sounds like anxiety to me. Suffered exactly the same with these type of thoughts for 2 years after childbirth, now fully recovered. You are most definitely NOT psychotic from reading what you wrote.

  • Aaron

    I've been dealing with the same stuff on and off for 2 1/2 years. It began in the form of a panic attack that landed me in the ER. I was prescribed Paxil shortly thereafter and stayed on that for a couple of years. I was on a low dose and decided to wean myself off about 6 months ago. I did fine for the first 4 months and then for the last 6 weeks or so I've been feeling "off", not able to control my thoughts. It feels exactly as if my antithesis is inside my mind and trying to sabotage me. I'll have the same agressive thoughts. I feel convinced that I'd never do anything to myself. My fear is that I will lose my mind and then do something that I wouldn't normally do. Although I feel for anyone who has to go through this, I'm happy to hear I'm not alone. I really don't want to get back on meds, so I plan on exhausting all other treatments before considering that.

  • mark

    hello everyone,

    i have been getting scary thoughts for the last 3 months, they are of hurting someone which i am not that type of person to do that, i am a nice easy going guy i would never hurt anyone or myself it just scares me to have the thoughts i am having,3 and a half years ago i was told by my gp that i had panic attack and i have generalized anxiety (GAD), I have not taken any meds for this, i dont want to take meds

    thanks mark

  • Anonymous-2

    I was about 14 years old when I first experienced thoughts like these. I am female and was a sensitive but joyful and kind child. The thoughts began immediately the day after a dark trippy nightmare (I had lots of these as a child). It was as though the dark side was revealed to me, and snapped me out of the innocence of childhood. In a similar way to the writer, the thoughts would be pre-empted by a sense of a dark sinister cloud. I would feel removed from everybody around me (my family), and start to think maybe I was evil. I had thoughts of suddnely picking up a knife and killing all my family - essentially behaving as the complete antithesis of how I and the world had always perceived me to be. It also used to happen most often in the evenings the light of day seemed to drive away the cloud. I began to regularly pray, and chant to myself that I love my family and would never hurt them. I would think of God and imagine bright light running over my body and dissipating the thoughts. I prayed to God that he would just take the thoughts away and never let me think them again. I also tried to watch Disney films and read happy things to change my frame of mind. I often felt alone and very frightened. I tried once to confide in my Mother about these thoughts but was too afraid to tell her exactly, so I simply said I was afraid of the general human possibility (including me) to do very bad things. My mother reassured me that I was a lovely girl who would not dream of even hurting a fly. I didn't want to distress her, and I was afraid also that maybe I was psychotic and my family would disown me or send me away. Since then I have told no-one, not even a psychiatrist - I am afraid to talk about it for fear of encouraging such thoughts.

    I am 30 years old now, and I have found that over the years they are less and less present. If they start to appear, I get active and talk to people and I soon forget them. I try not to feed them or I make light of them and shrug them off. Often months and years pass and I know nothing of them. They came uninvited, they were/are not me.

    I always thought it was me alone that experienced these thoughts - it is immensely reassuring to know I am not alone. I am grateful for the internet for sites like these as I doubt I would ever be able to communicate this experience in another setting. If only it had been an option when I was 14.

    Many thanks for sharing your stories and reading mine.

  • Jack

    You know, I have had OCD my whole life. Its ruing my life. I have three kids and can barely keep myself together and moving through the day, how am I suppossed to be there for them. Somedays its like I just cannot get my brain to turn off so I can rest. It just keeps going. I took a shot even though I couldnt really afford it and went to a doctor. He put me on what was basically a tranqualizer. Great, so I stop obsessing so much but I cant stay awake or do my job, as far as he was concerned this was an acceptable trade off. I stopped going to him. I am at my wits end and am not sure what to do anymore, the people around me do not understand what this is like and simply think I am unreasonable and annoying. For all intents and purposes I am all by myself in this, and am loosing.

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