What Is A Thought Disorder And Do I Have One?
Updated October 14, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers
A thought disorder is diagnosed after careful observation of one's speech, which often gives a clear indication that something unusual is occurring in the individual's brain. These disorders tend to occur in conjunction with other diagnoses, such as autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar mania. It's also common for someone with a thought process disorder to tend to think more illogically than others because they may not understand what their brain is telling them. In addition, their thoughts may be moving so fast that it's difficult for them to communicate what they're thinking. When this happens, they may become confused, frustrated, or angry because their brains are not cooperating with them. They could also become discouraged or depressed about their situation.
However, it's important to know that a thought disorder is a mental health disorder, and it can be managed. Many people with a thought disorder find ways to be productive and successful once they learn to manage their symptoms.
What Happens To People with a Thought Disorder?
Individuals who have been diagnosed with a thought disorder tend to have their beliefs and perceptions altered by their mental health condition. Because their thoughts are often illogical, they can experience paranoia, hallucinations, or delusions. They may become increasingly confused and unable to decipher their thoughts in general.
Some symptoms of a thought disorder include:
- Interruptions in the train of thought – The person's thoughts are racing, so it's impossible for them to finish one thought or sentence before moving onto the next. They may not even realize they're doing this.
- Rapidly discussing unrelated topics – Because they're thinking about so many things at once, they say what's on their mind, sharing topics in rapid succession. They may tell you that they woke up this morning and it was a good day and then go on to tell you that the moon was full last night and their mother is in town. From their perspective, they're sharing a continuous story, but to someone on the receiving end, the conversation might be confusing and difficult to follow.
- Illogical or incoherent speech - They say words that do not make sense or make sounds that don't even sound like words. Their thought process cannot be quickly processed or transmitted, so it may sound jumbled when they attempt to express their thoughts. People who experience this may sound as though they're speaking gibberish.
- Believing that someone or something has stolen their thoughts - Someone with a thought disorder may come to believe that radio, the television, or the government has stolen their thoughts since they cannot find them within themselves. They're not able to see this thought process as paranoia.
- False beliefs - Along the same lines, a person may believe that the government is out to get them or have other conspiracy theories. Similarly, they may fear that others are "in on it" or make up other theories in their minds to compensate for the jumbled thoughts in their head.
- Inability to follow a story - Since their thoughts don't seem to have a rhyme or a reason to them, it's common for someone with a thought disorder to have a difficult time telling a story. They may find it difficult to form a timeframe or organize their sentences. On the receiving end, their thought process is the result of unorganized thoughts and is extremely difficult to follow.
I Think I Have A Thought Disorder- Where Should I Start?
There's no outright cure for a thought process disorder, but they're very treatable. Treatments may vary based on the symptoms and severity of the disorder. For some, psychotherapy tends to help them organize their thought process and acknowledge when they're being irrational. Working with a professional, they can retrain their thought processes to make them clearer. One very specific way to change a thought process is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, where the therapist helps the patient to challenge their thought process and change the way they react to it. This therapeutic approach is found to be highly effective for a thought disorder, among many other conditions.
Doctors can also utilize psychotropic medication. This type of medication can help the patient think more clearly. With a slower mind and clearer thoughts, patients can express themselves and communicate with others more effectively. Consult your doctor or primary care physician before considering any medication options.
Most professionals suggest a combination of these two approaches, as medication will help to clarify thoughts enough for a therapist to decipher what's going on inside the mind. As with everything in life, each person is different, and each person responds differently to different levels of treatment. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all method of treatment for a thought disorder.
As part of your diagnosis and treatment, your doctor may recommend medical tests, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or a Computed Tomography Scan (CAT Scan) to see brain activity and rule out a physical component to this disorder. Bloodwork may also be completed to ensure that a hormonal or chemical imbalance is not a contributing factor.
I've Been Diagnosed With A Thought Disorder, Now What?
BetterHelp Can Help
If you think you might have a thought disorder, but you don’t have time to see a therapist or are embarrassed someone you know might see you at a therapist’s office, you can use a platform like BetterHelp. At BetterHelp, there are thousands of licensed therapists who can help you figure out next steps. Once a diagnosis is made, they can support you through treatment, so you can feel better. You will be able to meet with your online therapist anywhere, from your home to even your car. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
"After only 2 sessions with Dr. C I was feeling 100% more in control of my thoughts and emotions. Looking forward to more sessions with her!"
There's no reason to let a thought disorder hold you back. Once you've received a diagnosis, it's important to work with your treatment team, so you can learn to manage your symptoms. If your doctor prescribes medication, be sure to take it as prescribed and let them know if you experience side effects. You'll also want to work with a qualified therapist who can help you learn to cope and thrive.
A thought disorder is not a death sentence. It will not take years off your life, but it's important to understand and accept it. With your treatment team and loved ones supporting you, a thought disorder will become something you have, not something you are. Take the first step today.
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