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Unwanted Thoughts!

Question:

About a year ago I started experiencing anxiety attacks. These were do to several built emotions I had bottled up. (Concerning my mother’s recent death) As a result of the anxiety I became sick. And for about 6 months I thought I was dying and it was constantly on my mind. With every little cold I thought I was going to die. But over the past 6 or 7 months these thoughts have changed. So this is going to sound strange. But I have always been attracted to men. But then I had a bi sexual friend who was a girl. And then I began to worry that by hanging out with her I was suddenly bi. Which would be fine if it were true. However, now I have had a boyfriend who I have been dating for 6 months and whom I love. Yet these thoughts always infiltrate my mind and I just want them to stop so I can be happy. What can I do to stop all of these intrusive thoughts?!

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Answer:

The thoughts that are "infiltrating your mind," (an excellent way to describe it) are examples of intrusive thoughts that are called Obsessional Thinking. Obsessional thoughts are driven by lots of anxiety and you report that you have had more than your share of anxiety, especially since the death of your mother.

First, let me assure you that you are heterosexual, as you admit your self. You have a boy friend and are attracted to men. These bisexual thoughts are nothing more than examples of obsessions at work. You do not need to add to your anxiety by attempting to convince your self that you are gay. You are not.

How to stop intrusive thoughts:

1. I want to urge you to learn meditation. Meditation is extremely relaxing and allows the person let go of his stress and anxiety. That will help lessen these unhappy thoughts.

2. As part of meditation, try a visualization in which you focus on taking an imaginary journey to an ideal and wonderful place. Allow your self to see the place, hear it, feel it, smell the fragrances and fully experience it. It might be a tropical island, rainforest or what ever you love.

3. When the thoughts begin, think of something else, something very pleasant. Do not try to stop the thoughts but turn your attention to something pleasant. If you can do a meditation or visualization at that moment when the thoughts begin, then good, do it.

4. If nothing else works then it is time for medication. There are some excellent anti depressants that also reduce anxiety and prevent obsessional thinking. For that you should get a consultation with a Psychiatrist. You can speak to your regular doctor about a referral.

5. Whether you choose medication or not, another good way to approach this is to see a psychotherapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral therapy. That way, you can learn to modify your thinking. Of course, I tend to advocate a combination of therapy and medicine, but only if the first three suggestions do not work.

Best of Luck

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Comments
  • Ganesh

    Hi Dr. Schwartz

    About three months ago, i read an article about a schizophrenia person who killed his wife and children. At that time, i had cluster headache. Ever since i read it, i started to think that i may get that disease because in the article it said that the man didn't have any health issues but that one day he heard voices calling to him. So i thought that anyone can hear voices. Then i started to think that i am going to get that disease also. And everytime i feel something weird in my ear my mind thinks that i'm getting the disease. So i went to see the doctor and she gave me Cipralex. As i was getting better, i heard another news story about a man who cut someone's head off. Then i started to think that i might do that. So it was like back to step 1.

    I was on Cipralex for a month and i felt more depressed so she gave me another one called Zoloft. I am on it for two weeks now.

    Zoloft seems to be working. But there are times when i feel sad and times when i feel happier than other days.

    I am not going to any psychiatrist. My family doctor told me that if the medication doesn't work then she will get me to a psychiatrist.

    I hope you can tell me some other ways to stop unwanted thoughts from occuring again and again.

    Thank you!

  • Allan N. Schwartz, Phd

    Dear Ganesh,

    You will find an answer to your question under "Ask Dr. Schwartz." It will appear in a day or two.

    Dr. Schwartz

  • rob

    This sort of thinking is very familiar to me. I also hear or read about such things and tend to worry about whether or not I could suffer the same fate - kill my family, etc etc.

    My own research and view on this sort of thinking is that it is a function of an anxious personality type. Worrying about scary things is quite natural but an especially anxious person will overreact to this information and in an effort to prevent themselves ending up as the unwanted person (the schizophrenic, the head chopper) will obsess about it. Attempting to protect against this stuff leads to more obsession and worry and in fact ramps up the anxiety.

    Medical intervention via drugs is a good start to control the anxiety however professional input is also required in my opinion to deal with the type of thinking behaviour and beliefs that underlie this state of mind. See the psychiatrist now, not later.

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