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Personality Disorders are like tips of icebergs. They rest on a foundation of causes and effects, interactions and events, emotions and cognitions, functions and dysfunctions that together form the individual and make him or her what s/he is. I have always been interested in people, their ways of thinking and behaving. Studying psychology has partially satisfied my curiosity, however, I have also ended up more intrigued then ever! I have a great interest in neuropsychology or simply, the way our brains work. I have worked in various mental health environments and have seen the effects that absence of good mental health can have on people. However, I have also become much more aware of the ignorance and stigma, which is unfortunately, still attached to mental illnesses and mental instabilities. I have set up a web site as well as this blog to promote the awareness of mental health and the related issues, to help eliminate the prejudiced thinking prevalent in our societies. I hope both will develop into useful resources for different individuals and I look forward to all the interesting comments and posts from the readers, who are all welcome to sign up to the blog.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Racing Thoughts

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

1 comment:

  1. I found this article very interesting and quite relevant to me as i quite often have racing thoughts and am unable to 'switch off' at night. I find it quite helpful to write thoughts down (as suggested at the end)though I find I am usually too tired to read and crosswords can be stimulating. I was interested in the 'blackboard technique, which I will certainly try. I find listening to the radio quite helpful (as long as it is something relaxing!)

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