What Is A Thought Disorder And Do I Have One?

By: Sarah Cocchimiglio

Updated October 14, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers

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The way we think can help us understand the way that we act. In fact, our thoughts are what drive us to do what we do in our daily lives. However, when our brains give us mixed or scrambled messages, it becomes difficult to determine what's best for us, and we might act in odd or different ways. If our thoughts may begin to race, for example, it can be hard to understand what our brain is trying to tell us. In this case, speaking or communicating becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible. And when you can't communicate your thoughts and needs, it can feel overwhelming, frustrating, and terrifying.
 
If any of this sounds familiar, you may have a form of thought disorder, which can affect your thought process. Although this may surprise you, know that you're not alone because thought process disorders affect many people worldwide. Read on to learn more about them.

Thought Disorder

Quite simply, a thought disorder is a condition that interrupts our thought process, which can in turn cause disorganized speech. Someone with a thought process disorder may experience racing thoughts. They may also stutter and repeat themselves, or they may stop speaking mid-sentence. Sometimes their speech can even sound like gibberish.

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?

It's important to realize that, even though something's happening in your body and in your brain, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with you. It simply means that your thought process is being interrupted. You can work with an in-person or online therapist in addition to your treatment team, so they can provide you with the best possible care and support. If you dedicate yourself to treatment, you're bound to be successful.
Online therapy has been proven to be slightly better than face-to-face therapy regarding CBT treatment. In a literature review of 17 studies on the effectiveness of online CBT or eCBT when contrasted with traditional therapy, it was found that eCBT was better at reducing the symptoms of depression. It was also noted that eCBT could be less expensive than face-to-face therapy. Online therapy for CBT can also be used, as mentioned above, for other mental health conditions. People with PTSD and anxiety have found relief through this type of treatment.

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.

Counselor Reviews

"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!"

"Erin listens well and helps me to sort and summarize my thoughts. I'm dealing with a complex situation and it helps to talk about it out loud. She is open-minded and impartial. I appreciate her expertise, personable style and obviously caring personality. I also appreciate that she is not too careful and has identified and told me some things that were not easy to hear. She trusts that even though I'm already dealing with something difficult, I can handle the additional information and that it may be helpful to me in evaluating my situation. Thank you Erin."

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Thought Disorder

Moving Forward

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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