Are Intrusive Thoughts Normal?

Trust us, you're not alone. In fact, pretty much everyone has experienced intrusive thoughts at least once in their life.

Written by Alison Dotson

01 Everyone experiences intrusive thoughts. They're nothing to be ashamed of. But for OCD sufferers, these thoughts are far more debilitating.

02 The best way to deal with intrusive thoughts is to ignore them or laugh them off. The more you validate them, the worse they get.

03 If you think you're suffering with OCD, reach out to a doctor in your area to discuss treatment options.

Yes! Everyone gets intrusive thoughts now and then. You might be driving and wonder what it's like to steer your car off the road. Or walking down the street and imagine a passerby naked. Despite how absurd these thoughts sound, they really do happen to everyone. But for people with OCD, these thoughts are repetitive and debilitating. They don't happen once in awhile, they're constant. 

A person without OCD will barely notice these thoughts or may even laugh them off. Intrusive thoughts are “stickier” and much more upsetting for people with OCD. They often revolve around what a person cherishes in life: A devoted mother may worry that she’ll hurt her baby. A committed husband may wonder whether he really loves his spouse. An animal lover may have violent intrusive thoughts about their own pets. These ideas repeat over and over in their mind, often getting in the way of daily tasks and happiness. They cause intense anxiety and make a person question who they ”really” are. 

Knowing that intrusive thoughts are normal can be a huge step towards recovery and restoring self-esteem. That's super important! Proper treatment is the recommended next step, and approaching it from a newfound confidence can make it even more effective. The goal of treatment is to learn to face the thoughts head-on, without trying to push them away or make them disappear. You can learn more about OCD treatment here. 

About the author

Alison Dotson is the author of Being Me with OCD: How I Learned to Obsess Less and Live My Life. She was diagnosed with OCD at age twenty-six after suffering from “taboo” obsessions for more than a decade. Alison is the president of OCD Twin Cities, an affiliate of the International OCD Foundation, and the recipient of the 2016 International OCD Foundation Hero Award.

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