Obsessive thoughts are those that intrude into our mind involuntarily generating a high degree of discomfort and anxiety.
What are obsessive thoughts?
They consist of thoughts that, although we know they are irrational, cause us discomfort and intensity, due to the questioning of real value that we give to the content of said thought.
The level of discomfort and anxiety that it generates is so high that it ends up interfering in our day-to-day life, either generating more discomfort or disabling us for the correct development of our activities.
Why do obsessive thoughts occur?
The main causes of negative thoughts are stress and anxiety. Then they end up being generated or maintained due to the vicious circle in which we are dragged.
Many patients assure that “they have anxiety that generates an obsessive thought, this generates a lot of anxiety and that own anxiety generated by the thought makes the obsessive thought even stronger”.
Are there risk factors that predispose to these types of thoughts?
There are two large groups of factors:
- Biological-genetic factors . We could have a biological predisposition to suffer from anxiety and, consequently, obsessive thoughts. But, it is important to note that this does not mean that our descendants will have the same problem.
- Situational factors . Here there would be room for a picture of stress maintained over time or the experience of traumatic situations.
Relationship between obsessive thoughts and addiction to toxic substances
To date, there are no conclusive scientific studies that demonstrate causality between substance abuse and obsessive thoughts.
However, in psychology consultations, it is common to observe obsessive or ruminant thoughts after consumption of toxic substances. This may be due to a biological vulnerability or anxiety produced by consumption.
What to do if obsessive thoughts are suffered?
When dealing with obsessive thoughts, we must work in two areas: one would be the reduction of anxiety and discomfort, and the other the cognitive restructuring of obsessive thoughts.
To achieve the reduction of anxiety you can practice relaxation, stop thinking, acceptance, sport, controlled distraction … Each person will work better with a coping style than others. It is the job of the psychologist to guide the person to find what works for them.
To achieve the eradication of obsessive thinking, the help of a professional is necessary. This will help the patient in the management of anxiety and, through cognitive techniques such as, for example, questioning the irrationality of said thought, achieve control and, consequently, the extinction of the obsession.
The key is to learn to distance ourselves from thought, to know and internalize that it is a thought and not a fact: “that I think something does not mean that it is real or that it will come true.”
How can the psychologist help with obsessive thoughts?
The psychologist will work to help in the management of anxiety and in the elimination of the obsessive thoughts that are causing discomfort to the person.
Sometimes it will be necessary to work with the help of pharmacological treatment, when anxiety is very disabling, the result of obsessions.
It is important to work on reducing stress and anxiety, which precede obsession and at the same time function as a maintenance mechanism.
Later or at the same time, the irrationality of obsessive thinking will be worked on using cognitive or behavioral therapy techniques.
How to identify obsessive and irrational thoughts?