How to Deal With Intrusive Thoughts (A Comprehensive Guide)


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Page last updated: 12/10/2022

How to Deal With Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are inappropriate urges, desires, and images that are unsuitable in the situation.

The inappropriate themes and images at inappropriate times make the person restless and obsessed.

The term intrusive is associated with obsession in which the recurrence of unwanted thoughts without any stimulus or sometimes it is associated with mood, body dysmorphic, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Intrusive thoughts are significantly associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The irrational thoughts are anxiety-provoking and remain persistent.

It is commonly associated with an eating disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and mostly with psychosis.

The person who experiences intrusive thoughts has unwanted sexual or blasphemous themes that are inappropriate in an inappropriate situation.

If you don’t know how to deal with intrusive thoughts, then in this article you can learn about how to deal with intrusive thoughts. 

Positive psychology stated that Intrusive thoughts enter our consciousness without letting us know or prompting us that it is just about to happen.

The intrusive thoughts can be of many types like you can feel some weird thought without any purpose or you want to kill someone.

These thoughts are alarming and make you feel disturbed and often attacks in inappropriate situations.

Although we have also somehow been affected by inappropriate thoughts sometimes it goes.

In this psychiatry case, the intrusive thoughts never go and remain persistent that makes the person very restless and pass out sometime.

These thoughts fixated at one point and created great distress. (Seif & Winston, 2018).

When the intrusive thoughts happen with Obsessive-compulsive disorder then the person cannot be able to ignore the unwanted thoughts, but pay a lot more attention to it.

Thus in case, the person feels more irresistible and distressed due to this OCD thought that comes repeatedly and makes you feel very disturbed.

If we suppress these intrusive thoughts then this thought can be more persistent and intense.

Gradually these thoughts become the obsessions due to constant occuring of unwanted thoughts the person feels paralyzing, on such topics like violence, sexual or anti-religious sentiments often lead to the dysfunctionalities.

Despite this that many people deal with normal intrusive thoughts but that does not mean that they have to deal with obsessed intrusive thoughts that make the [person irresistible and persistent thought lead the person to go in severe and intense mood disorder too.

People who experience intrusive or unhappy thoughts often question about ‘How to get something out of your head?’

Well, for this you need to practice and follow a few steps.

How to Deal With Intrusive Thoughts (A Comprehensive Guide)

Explanation Of Intrusive Thoughts By Theories:

LYNN Somerstein (2016)

He stated that intrusive thoughts are due to some maladjustment in a person’s daily life.

The person must have difficulty in dealing with their relationship or other activities and facing such intrusive thoughts.

It can be a stress-related problem in occupational life that is hard to deal with that person or some other deficits in life that put him in frustration and as a result the person is facing intrusive thoughts at once.

Dr.Hannah Reese (2011)

He stated that might we not act in that way of our brain popping up the intrusive thoughts or we manifest these thoughts although we don’t want to do such things that our brain just spits out the most inappropriate thing at an inappropriate time.

Dr.martin seif and dr. sally Winston gives their views on intrusive thoughts:

Brain pop out junk thoughts and these are the flotsam and jetsam of consciousness.

In their view junk thoughts are nothing if you don’t pay attention toward it does not because of your distress; it gets washed in the consciousness.

Nobody is sure that from where these intrusive thoughts attack the brain and come to bother you.

The conclusion is that when we don’t try to think of it more, then it will end up with more than thinking.

For example, when anyone says that it doesn’t make an image in their mind about the black cat.

What do you think about how long this image wouldn’t be set in your brain?

Hardly can’t you stop thinking about that black cat image and it remains in your mind.

This is nothing for them who have a healthy neurotypical brain and are able to deal with their intrusive thoughts.

It’s so simple to grasp that intrusive thought that is on your radar.

But don’t ignore if these thoughts occur persistently then it means that you are facing some troublesome issues in your life.

Your life is disturbed from some aspects you must consult with mental health experts who can evaluate you with the best of their knowledge.

Two common diagnoses are associated with intrusive thoughts.

  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

You can also fall in the symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Bipolar disorder, and also Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

If you are facing persistent intrusive thoughts then you may be suffering from one of the above categories of disorder.

Types of Intrusive Thoughts:

The reaction of the person dealing with intrusive thoughts differs from individual to individual.

For some people, it becomes more violent and intense and sexual. For some people it becomes aggressive.

The way to resolve tension they carry out the compulsion in behaviors. Each time the recurring and compulsion make intrusive thoughts stronger and persistent.

Lee Baer stated in his study: suppressing the thoughts makes it stronger.

In one study the group was instructed to suppress the thoughts and they came in with distress due to suppression of thoughts.

When on the other hand the group is instructed to accept the intrusive thoughts and as a result they feel more comfortable than group one.

We can say that results are based on the underlying cognitive process that is included in the OCD.

With OCD it is hard to accept the intrusive thoughts. In the 19th century, the OCD was referred to as doubting sickness.

They are not ready to accept intrusive thoughts that make them more distressed and feel that other people will feel about them that they are insane.

To figure out which type of intrusive thoughts you are lying. We have categorized the types.

For better understanding of intrusive thought give your eye attention to each detail below:

  1. Aggressive thoughts
  2. Sexual thoughts
  3. Religious thoughts

Aggressive Thoughts

In this type, the intrusive thoughts can occur like violence, harm and harming others.

The thoughts can come in the frame like hurting or harming the child and falling through the big and tall building and urges to jump in front of the train and also wish to push someone else to train and automobile.

Rahman’s survey depicts that each of us having intrusive thoughts from time to time. In his survey he found:

  • Thoughts of harm to elderly people
  • Wishing about harm t somebody close to oneself
  • The impulsivity of violent attack, harm, kills a small child or elder person or animal.
  • Impulsivity to shout to someone or punishing someone or say something rude to someone, nasty, inappropriate behaviors and violence to someone.

The treatments are available for such type of disorder.because these are associated with Obsessive-compulsive disorder and can cause severe distress if it is not cured.

In this article, you will learn about how to deal with Intrusive Thoughts

Sexual Thoughts:

Sexual obsessions like intrusive thoughts of kissing, touching, sex, oral, or intercourse, forcibly touch strangers.

The extremely obsessive thoughts of doing sex with close family members, friends, coworkers, animals and also religious personalities.

This is also included heterosexual, homosexual with any age of the person.

Men intrusive thoughts are as follows:

  • Having sex in a public place.
  • The people with whom they are in contact think that they are unclothed.
  • Want sexual engagement with someone else who doesn’t accept.

Women sexual intrusive thoughts:

  • Having sex in a public place
  • Sexually victimized
  • I want to engage with an authoritative personality in sex.

The obsessive-compulsive disorder might doubt their self on sexual identity.

The person feels with intrusive thoughts as shame, embarrassment, guilt, distress, torments, impulsivity, and the person may experience depression in such cases of self-loathing. In this article, you will learn about how to deal with Intrusive Thoughts.

Religious Intrusive Thoughts:

Blasphemous thoughts are a common element in ocd the people with religious intrusive thoughts are commonly thought to curse God and Jesus as martin Luther did and was obsessed with devil images.

St. Ignatius thought of steps on the cross and fearing the disrespect to Christ. 

In this article, you will learn about how to deal with Intrusive Thoughts

Fred Penzel stated some religious intrusive thought is:

  • The person thinks about to do sex with God, Saint, and any religious figure.
  • Bad images and thoughts during prayers and meditations.
  • Possessed thoughts
  • Fear of breaking laws of religion and doing it an uncertain way.
  • Reciting prayer incorrectly

Now, we will discuss how to deal with Intrusive Thoughts. 

How to deal with Intrusive Thoughts:

We know that everyone is dealing with intrusive thoughts on their own; some are very healthy in their neurotypical structures so they cope up instantly.

Some indulge in it and make it more complex to deal with.

Even they don’t want to accept the intrusive thoughts because it is recurring and frequently making the person distressed and in this case, the person feels shame, embarrassment, and guilt.

So we have listed some effective ways to learn about how to deal with Intrusive Thoughts. 

How to deal with Intrusive Thoughts Technique 1: Let it flow by

If we stop intrusive thoughts it will become more strong and distressing.

So let it go on. Dr. Kaplow says if we try hard to stop that means we are giving our thoughts a strong push top remain active.

They won’t return if we want to stop. .they won’t return if we want to stop. Allow your thoughts to happen.

We know that it is very difficult but you will have to try to deal with it.

How to deal with Intrusive Thoughts Technique 2: Focus on something else:

If you are facing inappropriate thoughts in inappropriate situations then don’t let it happen.

Drag your attention to any other activities like you can make yourself busy talking on the phone and also make some diagrams.

The creative activity will help you to deal with intrusive thoughts. Try do some art, this will lead to catharsis.

How to deal with Intrusive Thoughts Technique 3: Know what triggers:

Find the trigger and learn to fight from it.

Make up your mind that when it happens then you will be so strong to deal with it.

How to deal with Intrusive Thoughts Technique 4: Talk to the thought:

This is the most effective way to deal with intrusive thoughts. Talk and face intrusive thoughts.

What happening in your mind makes yourself prepare to question your speedily intrusive thoughts and counsel yourself with understanding?

How to deal with Intrusive Thoughts Technique 5: Practice mindfulness:

In a day make time for yourself in a silent and calm down place and practice mindfulness.

There you can feel of yourself just. Do meditation that helps you in dealing with intrusive thoughts.

How to deal with Intrusive Thoughts Technique 6: Remember it is just thoughts:

The one thing is to realize that it’s just thoughts nothing then else.

So why do you worry it won’t come upon you unless you allow it.

How to deal with Intrusive Thoughts Technique 7:Talk to your friends:

This thing will help you if you talk to your friend. Your friends will counsel and share their experiences too.

So it will have a positive impact for you and be very helpful in dealing with intrusive thoughts.

How to deal with Intrusive Thoughts Technique: Psychological Treatments:

Treatments to deal with intrusive thoughts are as follows:

Exposure and response prevention ERP

This is a form of CBT that is effective for OCD patients.

In this therapy, the patient is exposed to the situation multiple times.

The purpose is to face the situation that they face the fear that something wrong will not happen.

This treatment is very useful in treating intrusive thoughts.


Therapist Mark Tyrell explained three points for intrusive thoughts treatment.

He said OCD is hypnosis .He said that hypnosis helps in quickly passing out and narrowing attention quickly.

Hypnosis speaks with the problematic part of the mind.

Great way to extract fear from OCD.


Cognitive behavior therapy is specially designed for irrational thoughts, unwanted desires, and weird urges. 

The therapist uses this technique to realize the patients that these are just irrational thoughts that are meaningless.


The cbt has structured managing intrusive thoughts that are CBT worksheets.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Meditation
  • Medications

FAQ about How to deal with Intrusive Thoughts Technique 

Do intrusive thoughts go away?

Intrusive thoughts get away easily after learning a few techniques. 

What causes unwanted intrusive thoughts?

The two most causes of intrusive thoughts are anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).