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    Everything you need to know about intrusive thoughts

    EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS

    Occasionally, you’re minding our own business when a weird – and sometimes disturbing or upsetting – thought pops into your head. Why does your brain do this, and does it mean that you’re a bad person?

    WORDS: HAYLEY BENNETT

    Have you ever been driving along a motorway, listening to the radio, when your brain suddenly piped up with, “Hey, what if I just turn into the central reservation?” Or perhaps you picked up a knife to slice some bread and wondered, “What if I was to hurt someone with this?” These are examples of intrusive thoughts – just thoughts that pop into your head, either of their own accord or maybe because of the situation you’re in, such as driving a car or slicing bread. Ideally, we acknowledge these thoughts before simply setting them aside and moving on with our days. But for some people, at certain points in their lives, dismissing intrusive thoughts can become more difficult. Here, with some help from the experts, we explain what intrusive thoughts are, what happens when they get out of hand and how to deal with them…

    WHAT ARE INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS?

    From the broadest perspective, an intrusive thought is anything random that “pops into mind”, says clinical psychologist Prof Mark Freeston, who specialises in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety disorders at Newcastle University in the UK.

    Technically, an intrusive thought could be positive, but it’s more often than not the negative ones that we notice. An example might be a sudden panic that you’ve left the oven on and your home is going to burn down. The sort of thing that we all think about from time to time. We might not think of it as ‘unwanted’, because it’s just a thought that we quickly forget about.

    Then there are the intrusive thoughts that are very much unwanted, in mental health complaints such as OCD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety. “In social anxiety, the intrusive thoughts would likely be ‘How are other people seeing me?’, ‘Is my hand shaking?’” says Freeston.

    Whereas, in OCD, the thoughts may be fears of contamination, or in PTSD, they may be memories or flashbacks of a traumatic event.

    In psychology, what marks out an intrusive thought as different to a worry or other type of thought is that it’s at odds with what you generally believe to be true, or your values. Psychologists refer to this as an ‘egodystonic’ thought. Worries are considered more ‘egosyntonic’, meaning they’re more aligned with our beliefs. For instance, if you have been reading about the rising costs of energy and supermarket essentials, and are starting to spend more than you earn, you might understandably be concerned about how you’re going to pay your bills, but that would be a worry – not an intrusive thought.

    ARE INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS NORMAL?

    Yes, although we didn’t always realise this. Psychologist Prof Jack Rachman was the first to show experimentally that intrusive thoughts are ‘normal’. In the 1970s, he and colleague Padmal de Silva surveyed 124 people with no known psychiatric conditions and found that nearly 80 per cent of them often had thoughts that would be classed as intrusive. They compared the content of these thoughts to those of people being treated for obsessions. Surprisingly, when the intrusive thoughts experienced by both groups were written down, a panel of psychologists found it difficult to work out which group a lot of them belonged to. There were differences though. In clinical patients, intrusive thoughts tended to crop up more often; they were also more intense and harder to dismiss.

    While Rachman’s study profoundly influenced the next half a century of research on intrusive thoughts, the data on which it was based was from a relatively small group of UK students. Researchers carried out similar surveys over the years, but they were still limited to Europe and the US. Then, in 2014, a multinational team of researchers looked further afield, studying intrusive thoughts in 777 people across 13 countries and six continents. The team interviewed each person to check that they were really having intrusive thoughts as opposed to worries or other types of thoughts. The results suggested that 94 per cent had had at least one intrusive thought in the previous three months.

    Today, Prof Adam Radomsky, the lead author of the 2014 study, who is based at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, says he believes we all have intrusive thoughts. “We know that people are more likely to notice them or struggle with them during stressful periods,” he says. “But I think it’s just a fact of humanity that we have them. Most of them we probably don’t notice.”

    Perhaps the fact that we do have them is the result of important processes going on in our brains – if we never had random thoughts or considered things that we didn’t believe to be true, how would we create abstract art or dream up fantastical fictions? Freeston agrees that intrusive thoughts are “part of the human condition”, adding that it’s beneficial for humans to have random thoughts popping up all the time. “One of the arguments that has been put forward is that if we didn’t have random thoughts, we would never solve problems,” he says.

    Source : c01.purpledshub.com

    Read Everything You Need To Know About Intrusive Thoughts Online

    Everything You Need To Know About Intrusive Thoughts - Read online for free. Have you ever been driving along a motorway, listening to the radio, when your brain suddenly piped up with, “Hey, what if I just turn into the central reservation?” Or perhaps you picked up a knife to slice some bread and wondered, “What if I was to

    EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS

    Jun 8, 2022 9 minutes

    WORDS: HAYLEY BENNETT

    ILLUSTRATIONS: KYLE SMART

    by HAYLEY BENNETT

    Have you ever been driving along a motorway, listening to the radio, when your brain suddenly piped up with, “Hey, what if I just turn into the central reservation?” Or perhaps you picked up a knife to slice some bread and wondered, “What if I was to hurt someone with this?” These are examples of intrusive thoughts – just thoughts that pop into your head, either of their own accord or maybe because of the situation you’re in, such as driving a car or slicing bread. Ideally, we acknowledge these thoughts before simply setting them aside and moving on with our days. But for some people, at certain points in their lives, dismissing intrusive thoughts can become more difficult. Here, with some help from the experts, we explain what intrusive thoughts are, what happens when they get out of hand and how to deal with them…

    WHAT ARE THOUGHTS?

    From the broadest perspective, an intrusive thought is anything random that “pops into mind”, says clinical psychologist Prof Mark Freeston, who specialises in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety disorders at Newcastle University in the UK.

    Technically, an intrusive thought could be positive, but it’s more often than not the negative ones that we notice. An example might be a sudden panic that you’ve left the oven on and your home is going to burn down. The sort of thing that we all think about from time to time. We might not think of it as ‘unwanted’,

    Source : www.scribd.com

    Scientists find key to unwanted thoughts

    A chemical in the brain's "memory" region can allow people to suppress negative thoughts.

    Scientists find key to unwanted thoughts

    Published 3 November 2017

    IMAGE SOURCE, GETTY IMAGES

    Have you ever wanted to stop ruminating on something and just been unable to?

    Scientists could have the secret. They have identified a chemical in the brain's "memory" region that allows us to suppress unwanted thoughts.

    The discovery may help explain why some people can't shift persistent intrusive thoughts - a common symptom of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and schizophrenia.

    Researchers say controlling our thoughts is "fundamental to wellbeing".

    Associated words

    Prof Michael Anderson, from the University of Cambridge, who conducted the study, said: "When this capacity breaks down, it causes some of the most debilitating symptoms of psychiatric diseases - intrusive memories, images, hallucinations, ruminations, and pathological and persistent worries."

    ADVERTISEMENT

    Participants were asked to learn to associate a series of words with a paired, but otherwise unconnected, word - for example ordeal/roach and moss/north.

    After this, they had to respond to either a red or green signal. If it was green, they were expected to recall the associated word but if it was red, they were asked to stop themselves from doing so.

    Their brains were monitored using both functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), which detects changes in blood flow, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which measures chemical changes in the brain.

    IMAGE SOURCE, NEWSCAST ONLINE Image caption,

    The study may help explain why some people can't shift persistent intrusive thoughts

    Researchers found a particular chemical, or neurotransmitter, known as Gaba, held the key.

    Gaba is the brain's main "inhibitory" neurotransmitter. That means, when it's released by one nerve cell it suppresses the activities of other cells to which it is connected.

    They found people who had the highest concentrations of Gaba in their brain's hippocampus (or memory hub) were best at blocking unwanted thoughts or memories.

    "What's exciting about this is that now we're getting very specific," said Prof Anderson.

    "Before, we could only say 'this part of the brain acts on that part', but now we can say which neurotransmitters are likely to be important."

    New approaches to treatment

    The discovery might shed light on a number of conditions, from schizophrenia to PTSD, in which sufferers have a pathological inability to control thoughts - such as excessive worrying or rumination.

    Prof Anderson believes the findings could offer a new approach to treating these disorders. "Most of the focus has been on improving functioning of the prefrontal cortex," he said.

    "Our study suggests that if you could improve Gaba activity within the hippocampus, this may help people to stop unwanted and intrusive thoughts."

    Source : www.bbc.com

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