It is normal for people to have several things going on in their minds at any given time. When planning for the day ahead, there are usually several things that should be done. But for some people, however, these multiple thoughts become too much for them to bear. They begin to show symptoms of irritability, uneasiness, slurred speech, and inability to concentrate.
Generally, racing thoughts are described as an event where the mind uncontrollably brings up random thoughts and memories and switches between them very quickly. Sometimes they are related, as one thought leads to another; other times they are completely random. A person suffering from an episode of racing thoughts has no control over his or her train of thought and this stops them from focusing on one topic or prevents sleeping.
Racing thoughts are not just "thinking fast." They are thoughts that just won't be quiet; they can be in the background of other thoughts or take over a person's consciousness. Thoughts, music, and voices might be zooming through one's mind. There also might be a repetitive pattern of voice or of pressure without any associated "sound". It is a very overwhelming and irritating feeling, and can result in losing track of time. Sometimes racing thoughts are accompanied by a pounding hearth or pounding pulses, including drumming in the ears.
The phenomenon called racing thoughts is distinct from "hearing voices," which is a symptom of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, severe mania or other psychotic disorders.
Racing thoughts can be a symptom of bipolar disorder, depression, OCD or a variety of other mood and anxiety disorders. They are also associated with use of amphetamines and sleep deprivation. Treatment is available for each of these conditions.
There some suggestions put forward that can help with racing thoughts:
- Do crossword puzzles - helps you to focus your thoughts on something specific instead of letting them roam.
- Read a book - Especially one in which you can become absorbed.
- The chalkboard technique - Imagine a blackboard in your mind. As each thought comes to you, it is "written" on the chalkboard, which you instantly erase. Keep doing this with every thought as it comes. Eventually, you will tire yourself out and/or the thoughts will cease.
- Write in a journal
- Use a tape recorder: Just tape record your thoughts. This way you can speak as fast as your thoughts come to you. Eventually you will exhaust those thoughts (as well as your voice), and be able to sleep.
You may also want to read an article by Jordana Mansbacher entitled: Anxiety Reactions and Techniques to Stop Racing Thoughts