Can Hormone Imbalance Cause Intrusive Thoughts?
Are intrusive thoughts common? What causes them? And how can they be treated?
Intrusive thoughts can be very distressing. For some, they are harmless, and appear as if out of nowhere. The content of the thoughts can vary. Some thoughts can be absurd, while others can be quite horrific and unpleasant.
Most people can ignore these thoughts, but there are mental health conditions which greatly impact the frequency of intrusive thoughts, and how the intrusive thoughts are perceived.
In this article, we discuss what intrusive thoughts are, and whether they can arise due to a hormone imbalance.
What Are Intrusive Thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts or images that pop into your mind unexpectedly. They can be triggered by something you see, hear, smell, taste, touch, or even dream about.
The frequency and intensity of these thoughts vary from person to person. Some people experience intrusive thoughts every day, while others rarely have them at all.
These thoughts may come and go without any particular reason. However, for other people, their thoughts are more persistent and frequent. They feel like an intrusion into their life, and will make them anxious, upset, or depressed.
Some people find intrusive thoughts disturbing, while others don’t notice them at all. Either way, it is important to understand why these thoughts occur, and what can be done to help manage them.
Can Hormonal Imbalances Cause Intrusive Thoughts?
Hormonal imbalances can cause intrusive thoughts.
Hormones also affect the brain’s ability to filter out unwanted thoughts. A hormone imbalance could leave you with an overactive amygdala, which increases the likelihood of experiencing intrusive thoughts.
The amygdala is a part of our limbic system, located in the middle of our brain. It controls emotions such as fear, anger, and anxiety.
The amygdala is controlled by hormones. In particular, cortisol (the stress hormone) and serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation) work together to regulate its activity.
Cortisol levels rise during times of high emotions, such as when we feel stressed or anxious. Serotonin levels fluctuate throughout the day, and are higher after waking up than before going to sleep.
These fluctuations help regulate the amygdala’s sensitivity to incoming stimuli.
It is responsible for filtering out unwanted information from our senses, and only allowing us to pay attention to things that are important to us.
When it works correctly, it helps us make sense of our environment, and prevents us from being overwhelmed by too much sensory input.
However, when the amygdala malfunctions, it doesn’t filter out irrelevant information; it lets everything through.
This leads to intrusive thoughts.it can lead to problems like depression, OCD, PTSD, and other psychiatric disorders.
Mental Health and Intrusive Thoughts
Those with certain mental health conditions are more likely to experience intrusive thoughts, and find the intrusive thoughts to be distressing.
In some cases, hormones play a role in triggering these thoughts. For example, women who suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) often report having intrusive thoughts during their period.
PMDD is caused by fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone.
Other conditions that may trigger intrusive thoughts include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, and panic attacks.
The disorder which is considered to be most affected by intrusive thoughts is obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is characterized by repetitive behaviors that are performed without any conscious thought.
These behaviors are known as compulsions. Compulsions can range from washing hands over counting objects.
In many cases, intrusive thoughts will occur alongside other symptoms, such as obsessions. This means that intrusive thoughts become a part of an individual’s everyday life.
The severity of OCD varies from mild to severe. It is estimated that around one percent of adults in the United States have been diagnosed with OCD.
What Types Of Intrusive Thoughts Are There?
Intrusive thoughts can take on different forms. They can be about anything at all, but they are usually associated with negative feelings. Some common topics include;
— Fear of self harm, or harming others
— Fear of contamination
— Fear of having false memories
— Fear of developing an illness
— Fear of someone dying
In each case, each fear, or intrusive thought, is typically experienced with extreme anxiety and distress, and there may be images, or sounds that occur.
This is a small example of the topics that can occur with intrusive thoughts, but they are very common topics.
It’s important to note that everyone experiences intrusive thought. They are a normal part of life, and a result of having a mind that processes data and information.
They typically do not reflect any desire, nor do they reflect the individual.
However, certain mental health conditions can increase the number of intrusive thoughts experienced, and can make individuals terrified of the intrusive thoughts.
This is because they do not like experiencing intrusive thoughts, and fear it could reflect who they are.
In most cases, those who experience distress of frequent intrusive thoughts pride themselves on being a good person, which is why the thoughts are painful to experience.
How Can I Treat Myself If I Have Intrusive Thoughts?
There are several ways to treat yourself if you have intrusive thoughts. You may find it helpful to write down the thoughts in order to understand where they come from.
This helps you gain insight into why you think certain things. It also allows you to identify patterns in your thinking.
You could also talk to a trusted friend or family member. If you feel comfortable doing so, you could share your experiences with them.
However, it’s always best to seek professional help for this condition. A therapist or counselor can provide support and guidance.
They will help you work through your issues, and give you strategies to cope and manage your intrusive thoughts. They will teach you how to deal with the thoughts, rather than let them control your life.
How Can You Treat Intrusive Thoughts Professionally?
There are two main treatments for intrusive thoughts: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication. CBT works by helping patients identify and change negative thinking patterns.
Medication can help reduce the frequency of intrusive thoughts.
However, it does not necessarily treat the underlying issue causing the thoughts. It’s important to remember that both approaches can be effective. Both can be used together and separately.
If you are experiencing frequent intrusive thoughts, it is recommended that you speak to your GP about treatment options.
Your GP can refer you to a specialist who has expertise in treating this type of mental health problem. It would be advisable to speak to a qualified medical professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
They can advise you on what treatment options are available, and whether medication or CBT is more suitable. They will also assess your current situation, and determine if the treatment plan is appropriate for you.
If you decide to pursue medication, it may take time before you notice an improvement. However, if you choose CBT first, you should notice results much quicker.
The sooner you start working on your issue, the better chance you have at improving your overall mental state.
It is important to remember that intrusive thoughts are normal. There is no need to feel guilty or ashamed because of them. It’s essential to learn to live with these thoughts, and accept that they are part of our lives.
Intrusive thoughts are common. They are usually caused by stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, or other mental health problems.
However, intrusive thoughts are also common and normal for those who do not have any mental health conditions, or trauma. They are a normal part of life and have a mind.
Although intrusive thoughts can be distressing, there are many ways to treat them. It is critical to seek professional help if you are concerned about your intrusive thoughts.
Speak to a doctor, counselor, or psychologist about any concerns you have regarding your mental health. They will be able to offer advice and suggestions on how to overcome these feelings.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT (license:115130)
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: December 1, 2022