Don’t Let Intrusive Thoughts Get In the Way

Start Your Addiction Recovery Today

Find Out How

Common Questions About Addiction Treatment

Check Out Our FAQ

Verify Your Insurance

Looking for effective treatment that’s also affordable? We accept most major insurance providers. Get a free insurance benefits check now.

Check Your Coverage​

Questions about treatment?

Get confidential help 24/7.
Reach out for more details about:
  • How we can help

  • Our location & programs

  • Insurance & payment options

Call 866-881-1184

Have you ever had a completely inexplicable thought pop into your head? Something bizarre or unpleasant – something you’d never truly consider acting on? Maybe you try to push it out of your mind but it somehow keeps coming back?

This is what’s known as an intrusive thought. While everyone deals with intrusive thoughts every now and then, constant intrusive thoughts could be a sign of a deeper problem.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to handle intrusive thoughts, especially if they seem constant. 

What Are Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts, also known as impulsive thoughts or obsessive thoughts, are images or ideas that seem to come into your head unprompted.

It’s important to note that intrusive thoughts are to some extent normal, as everyone experiences this occasionally. However, constant intrusive thoughts can become obsessions and compulsions, reducing one’s quality of life.

These obsessive thoughts can be difficult to manage or eliminate, not to mention a source of distress, much like anxiety and stress disorders. They can also be indicative of an underlying mental health issue, such as a clinical anxiety disorder, depression, stress disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. 

Trauma in particular can be a cause of constant intrusive thoughts. People suffering from PTSD may experience intrusive thoughts related to past trauma. They may also engage in negative self-talk related to the traumatic event. Mental health professionals are here to help. 

Why Does it Feel Like I Constantly Have Intrusive Thoughts?

Constant intrusive thoughts could be a sign of a mental health issue, particularly PTSD.

People who have experienced trauma can become preoccupied with avoiding further trauma at all costs. Constantly on guard against further trauma, their minds will race with thoughts related to possible future danger. Ironically, this only causes them to re-experience trauma regularly.

Additionally, trauma can itself physically alter the brain, which can predispose a person to constant intrusive thoughts.

Looking For Substance Abuse Treatment?

Get confidential help from our addiction treatment specialists in Orange County. Call to join our rehab program today!

Call 866-881-1184

How to Handle Constant Intrusive Thoughts

Handling constant intrusive thoughts can be challenging, but with the right approach and support, individuals can learn to manage these thoughts more effectively.

Here are some tips to cope with constant intrusive thoughts:

  • Recognition — Acknowledge that intrusive thoughts are a common mental occurrence and are not a reflection of your character or desires.
  • Practice Acceptance — Accept that these thoughts may occur, rather than trying to suppress them which can often intensify the frequency and distress.
  • Journaling — Write down your thoughts in a journal. Documenting intrusive thoughts can help in recognizing patterns and triggers, which can be beneficial in therapy.
  • Avoiding Triggers — If certain situations or substances like caffeine or alcohol trigger intrusive thoughts, try to minimize exposure to these triggers.
  • Physical Activity — Regular exercise can help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression, which can in turn reduce the frequency and intensity of intrusive thoughts.
  • Sleep and Nutrition — Maintain a regular sleep schedule and a balanced diet to support your mental and physical well-being.
  • Connect with Others — Talk to someone you trust about what you’re experiencing.

While all of these things will help, you aren’t expected to get through this alone. If you are dealing with constant intrusive thoughts, seek professional depression treatment.  A qualified depression therapist can provide evidence-based treatment, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Can Treatment Get Rid of Intrusive Thoughts?

The cornerstone for managing constant intrusive thoughts often lies in behavioral health treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in particular has been found to be quite effective in managing obsessive thoughts. CBT helps individuals identify and change maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors.

Through CBT, individuals can learn to stop constant intrusive thoughts, or at least lessen them and reduce their emotional impact. Research shows CBT for OCD has up to a 75% efficacy rate.

For conditions like OCD, medications, such as SSRIs, may also be used.

Verify Your Insurance

Looking for quality substance abuse treatment that’s also affordable? South Coast accepts most major insurance providers. Get a free insurance benefits check now.

Check Your Coverage​

Therapy for Trauma

Trauma therapy can be helpful if the underlying cause of the impulsive thoughts is PTSD. There is a subset of CBT called trauma-focused CBT, or TF-CBT, that can help address this.

Another form of trauma therapy is EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR is often used for trauma-related intrusive thoughts, helping to process and integrate distressing memories.

During EMDR, the therapist helps the individual process distressing memories by guiding them to make specific eye movements while recalling the memories. The goal is to change the way these memories are stored in the brain, thereby reducing and potentially eliminating the distress they cause.

Holistic Therapy

There are holistic therapy approaches that can help address constant intrusive thoughts:

  • Mindfulness and Meditation — Mindfulness meditation can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings without becoming overwhelmed by them.
  • Yoga — Yoga can promote relaxation, physical well-being, and mindfulness, which can help manage symptoms of anxiety and intrusive thoughts.
  • Breathwork — Engage in breathing exercises to manage anxiety and stress. Deep breathing can provide immediate relief from the distress caused by intrusive thoughts.

While treatment may not eradicate intrusive thoughts, it can significantly lessen their impact and provide individuals with the tools and strategies to manage them effectively. The combination of a structured treatment environment, evidence-based psychotherapies, and holistic practices can offer a comprehensive approach to managing and alleviating intrusive thoughts.

Intrusive Thought Treatment at South Coast Behavioral Health

We all have unwanted intrusive thoughts from time to time. For those struggling with constant intrusive thoughts, South Coast Behavioral Health is here to help. We offer dual diagnosis treatment that is intended to address mental health issues and any related substance abuse problems simultaneously.

Mental health professionals are real and they can help with things like managing stress, depression and OCD. There are mental health programs that assist with anxiety disorder, stress disorders, social anxiety disorder, eating disorder, post-partum depression, Tourette’s syndrome, specific phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety, hoarding disorder, bipolar disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and more. 

Treatment for substance abuse takes place along an entire spectrum of care. Along that entire spectrum are various types of therapy, support groups, and the use of medically-assisted treatment (MAT).

These levels of treatment are, in order, as follows:

Residential Treatment in California

After completing medical detox, you’ll move to inpatient treatment in Orange County California. There, you’ll receive medically-assisted treatment and dual diagnosis treatment to deal with any cravings or co-occurring mental health issues you may be battling.

We also offer residential treatment facilities in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Huntington Beach for those who desire gender-specific treatment. There, patients get round-the-clock medical attention and monitoring while living at the institution full-time.

In addition to individual and group counseling and medication management, you’ll also have access to leisure activities and family support services.

Partial Hospitalization in California

Most clients start substance abuse treatment with South Coast in our residential treatment program. After completing that, many desire something that still provides structure and support, but with extra space and time to oneself. For that, we offer Partial Hospitalization in Newport Beach.

A step down from inpatient care but with more structure than conventional outpatient programs, partial hospitalization offers a good balance for those looking to ease back into normal life. Clients can receive care five to seven days a week for several hours each day, returning to their homes in the evening.

This way, they can recover without putting their daily lives completely on hold, receiving intense therapeutic interventions like group and individual therapy, skill development, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and medication management as necessary.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment in California

For those leaving inpatient residential treatment or partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are yet another gradual step forward on the road to recovery.

With a focus on group therapy, individual counseling, and education, clients undergoing Intensive Outpatient Treatment in Newport Beach can meet three to five days a week. Each session lasts three hours.

This level of care requires the least amount of attendance at a facility.

Start Today

Unwanted intrusive thoughts don’t make you a bad person, but they may be a sign of mental illness. Our treatment approaches help you learn to cope with them just like any repetitive behaviors. If you or a loved one are struggling with constant intrusive thoughts in daily life but wonder how long counseling takes or have other questions, call us at 866-881-1184. Our highly qualified staff will be happy to help give you an idea of what to expect, as well as help verify your insurance and assist with any other questions you may have about mental health care.

Pierce Willans
Kelly McIntyre
Medically Reviewed by Kelly McIntyre, MS, LMFT
Read More About addiction Treatment & Recovery
Start Your Recovery Today at South Coast

At South Coast, our experts are dedicated to providing comprehensive information to help you make well-informed decisions for your health and happiness in recovery.

Contact us today if you are ready to begin your journey to recovery. Our team is available around the clock, so feel free to call us at any time.