Handling Obsessions

Handling Obsessions

Obsessive thoughts are the hallmark of obsessive compulsive disorder, but there are types of “obsessive” thoughts that are present in a variety of disorders that won’t necessarily cause a diagnosis of OCD. These are listed on the right. Proper diagnosis and treatment are necessary and therefore it is imperative that you consult a psychiatrist ASAP. On this page we give you tips to deal with your Obsessive thoughts while you are planning or are in the process of a psychiatric consultation

Studies show that trying too hard to “not” think about something actually causes you to think about it more. The brain works in a strange way that keeps reminding you of the thought in order to remind you not to think about it. If you experience too much shame or fear over these thoughts the brain will cause you to have the thoughts even more.

Accept your thoughts for what they are: a symptom of your disorder. Accept that you have no control over them and that they are being generated by your brain. The thoughts are not in your control, and not something you should expect to control. Accept that they’re a  part of the disorder, and that when your disorder is adequately treated you will have fewer of the thoughts.

Stop shaming yourself, and stop feeling like you need to push these thoughts away.  Your thoughts are what they are – they may cause you to do silly or “irrational” things, but so what? Who cares if you keep checking a lock, keep washing your hands, or think about unusually sexual or fearful things?

Write out the thoughts in a book. Our mind has a tendency to focus on persistent thoughts less often when it knows they’re being kept in a permanent place. If that doesn’t work, write them down and then tear up the paper, telling yourself that you have trashed the thoughts and divert yourself with a constructive task.

Stop fighting the thought. The more you fight it the more it will come. Let the thoughts flow through your mind like water from a flush. Wait for your mind to flush them all out wothout getting upset, or anxious, or guilty. Gradually you will find that they become less stressful.


Obsessive thinking may be a symptom of various diorders:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

People with OCD may have obessive rumination with a compulsion to do things that reduce the distress caused by the obsession.


People with depression may have obessive rumination on negative or depresssive thoughts. 

Panic Disorder

People with panic disorder and panic attacks may develop obsessive worry that something is wrong with their health.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

People with PTSD often find themselves obsessing over the trauma they experienced, or the belief that the trauma will occur again.


People with very severe phobias may start to think about the object of that fear more and more with everything they do.

Social Anxiety

People with social anxiety may obsess about embarrassing themselves in social situations.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

People with GAD may have numerous repetitive worries.