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Impulsive Versus Intrusive Thoughts

Knowing the differences between impulsive versus intrusive thoughts can help those who are struggling to seek the right kind of help. The conditions associated with these thoughts can be treated and managed.

When someone has these persistent and unwanted thoughts, it can impact their life tremendously. Proper care and treatment are essential to overcoming these thoughts and living a productive lifestyle.

What are Intrusive Thoughts?

Most people have experienced intrusive thoughts at least once in their lifetime. Intrusive thoughts are unwanted, unprovoked, and distressing thought patterns that can occur out of nowhere. They are also recurrent. Intrusive thoughts can be a characteristic of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and can cause a person to become extremely distressed. However, these thoughts aren’t always indicative of OCD.

Intrusive thoughts often surround situations involving harming oneself or a loved one, and can cause anxious thoughts and feelings for longer periods of time. This, in turn, can lead an individual into a tailspin wondering if they are capable of causing harm to themselves or a loved one. An example of an intrusive thought is when someone thinks about stabbing a loved one, but does not act on it.

Additionally, they then can become obsessed with this thought, wondering where it came from and if they are truly capable of such a thing. The thoughts and feelings surrounding the original intrusive thought can be persistent and lead a person to continually foster the thought and the emotions that came with it. The differences between impulsive versus intrusive thoughts lies here. The persistence of the thought and the feelings surrounding it.

What are Impulsive Thoughts?

Much like intrusive thoughts, impulsive thoughts can occur without provocation. They are also unwanted and distressing thought patterns that tend to pop into a person’s mind seemingly unprovoked. These thoughts can surround any array of topics, from ruining something beautiful, to causing harm to oneself or a loved one.

As with intrusive thoughts, an example of an impulsive thought can be the thought of stabbing someone. The main difference between impulsive versus intrusive thoughts is how these thoughts continue. Impulsive thoughts usually occur and a person can move on from it. 

The Difference Between Impulsive Versus Intrusive Thoughts

While both impulsive and intrusive thoughts can both be distressing and unprovoked, they do have their differences. Intrusive thoughts can be continually upsetting and persistently distressing.

Impulsive thoughts generally surround sudden urges or behaviors and the person lacks consideration of potential consequences. These thoughts can lead to impulsive actions without properly thinking about the risks and consequences. 

The Similarities Between Impulsive Versus Intrusive Thoughts

While there are differences between impulsive versus intrusive thoughts, the similarities are just as impactful. The way that these thoughts affect a person internally can be intense. Having thoughts of harming someone they love can lead a person to feel like they are a danger to their loved one’s well-being.

Both types of thoughts occur unexpectedly and can lead to disruption in mental equilibrium. The disruption to a person’s mental health can lead to feelings of anxiety in both types of thoughts.

Impulsive Versus Intrusive Thoughts and OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a condition in which an individual has persistent and unwanted thoughts that lead to repetitive and consistent behaviors. Often, OCD surrounds thoughts of contamination, leading to excessive cleaning and handwashing. Other thoughts and behaviors that can be associated with OCD include thoughts of leaving a door unlocked and continuously checking to make sure said door is locked.

Even though an individual has confirmed the door is locked, they continue to check the door in order to appease the thoughts that are causing distress surrounding the potential of the door being unlocked. It can also include symmetry, sexual activity and sexual violence, morality, and sexual orientation or gender identity. The intrusive versus impulsive thoughts that can occur in someone struggling with OCD can lead to severe impacts to a person’s daily life. 

How Therapy Helps

Therapy is a viable and beneficial option for those who are struggling with intrusive or impulsive thoughts. Undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, can help those struggling with these thoughts to identify how the thoughts that are occurring can impact the person’s behaviors negatively. It also helps them to implement positive and helpful skills that can begin to change the way these thoughts impact their life.

Other therapies that can be beneficial include dialectical behavioral therapy, DBT, which is similar to CBT. In contrast to CBT, it focuses on feeling the feelings and getting through them without negative impacts. Holistic therapy can help implement some positive coping skills. These skills can help combat the negative thoughts or behaviors that can occur.

Receiving the right help is crucial for those who struggle with these thoughts. Reaching out is the first step to getting that help. 

Coping With Impulsive and Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive and impulsive thoughts can wreak havoc on a person’s life. They can lead to behaviors that may be drastically different than usual. For those who suffer from these kinds of thoughts, there is help. If you or a loved one are struggling with impulsive or intrusive thoughts, we can help. At Empowered Recovery Center we strive to ensure those under our care are gaining the skills and knowledge they need to overcome these thoughts.

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    Marietta, GA 30066

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