OCD Intrusive Thoughts: What are they and how to deal with them

Intrusive thoughts are common for most people to experience. They are an unwanted image or thought that can cause distress to varying degrees, but most people are able to dismiss them.
Whilst we may all experience intrusive thoughts, people with OCD Intrusive thoughts can have their lives completely disrupted causing tremendous distress. 

Examples of OCD Intrusive Thoughts
Intrusive thoughts are very often explicit or violent and commonly fall into one (or more) of these categories;

  • Acts of a sexual nature
  • Thoughts about children
  • Aggressive or violent thoughts (for example; stabbing or harming someone)
  • Thoughts about sexual identity 
  • Death or serious illness
  • Your safety
  • Religion

Whilst these are common categories, intrusive thoughts may fall in any area or topic. The thing to remember is that an intrusive thought differs to a regular thought because it is repetitious, causes you anxiety and distress and is something you do not want to be thinking about.
Having these unwanted and disturbing thoughts can cause you to doubt yourself; that you’re not a “good person” and have an unsavoury character. 

It is important to remember that a person with intrusive thoughts does not want to have them and will work very hard to fight them. These people do not want to act on the thoughts and in reality, the thoughts are directly opposite to their usual nature. They are not a warning sign that a person has a physical desire to carry out the thought. 

How to cope with Intrusive thoughts
Dealing with intrusive thoughts can be daunting but you do not have to live them them. Here are some ways to learn to deal with the thoughts and not let them cause you overwhelming anxiety and distress any more. 

  • Think about the source of the thought
  • Be aware of it but don’t judge it
  • Don’t fight with the thought, just let it be
  • Focus on letting the thought go
  • Remind yourself that a thought is just a thought
  • Reach out for support

What support is available to help with OCD Intrusive thoughts

  1. exposure and response therapy, cbt
  2. psych/therapist
  3. medications






If you would like to get in contact with us, please email or phone 07 5574 3888.

Acute Care Team: 1300 642 255
LifeLine: 13 11 14
BeyondBlue: 1300 22 4636
Men’s Line: 1300 78 99 78
In an emergency, call ambulance on 000 or attend to your local hospital emergency department who have mental health teams to provide assessment and brief intervention in times of mental health crisis.

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