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Intrusive thoughts are the kind of thoughts that pop into your mind randomly, triggering anxiety. They are often thoughts that we do not activate, thus the name, but even more, such thoughts can be very disturbing.

According to Dr. Sally Winston, a psychologist who works at the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute, intrusive thoughts often manifest in the form of violent, sexual, or socially unacceptable thoughts or images that pop into the mind. The good news is that such thoughts are common, but they are not significant, so they should not be a source of concern.

“Everybody has thoughts that kind of go against who they are,” noted Dr. Jonathan Abramowitz, a neuroscience and psychology professor at the University of North Carolina.

Where do intrusive thoughts come from, and can they be avoided?

Intrusive thoughts have their origins in the subconscious part of our brains. Researchers believe that they are a natural part of our brains and manifest as a form of mental exercise similar to daydreaming.

Scientists claim that individuals who suffer from OCD have a hard time overcoming or avoiding intrusive thoughts because such thoughts often get stuck in their minds. There are measures that anyone can take to reduce the frequency of intrusive thoughts. Here are some of the measures that you can take against intrusive thoughts:

  • Carefully analyze the unwanted thoughts

Chances are that your intrusive thoughts are the results of an underlying problem such as a certain behavior. Consider exploring the problem and shedding that particular behavior to overcome the intrusive thoughts.

  • Understand that they are not a reflection of reality

Do not be concerned about your intrusive thoughts because they are often not a representation of your reality. They are thus inconsequential and should not be a source of concern.

  • Get professional help

Although intrusive thoughts are generally not a source of concern, if they start getting out of hand to a point where you start thinking about acting on them, you might need professional assistance. This should also be the case if such thoughts have become so bothersome that you cannot function normally.