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Understanding Intrusive Thoughts with ADHD

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) sometimes experience intrusive thoughts, which are unwanted and repetitive images or ideas that can cause anxiety or distress. Intrusive thoughts are different from the usual day-to-day worries that people experience. They tend to be more persistent and difficult to control. For some people with ADHD, intrusive thoughts can be so severe that they result in compulsions or avoidance behaviors.


What are intrusive thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are defined as “unwanted, repetitive images or ideas that can cause anxiety or distress.” They are different from the usual day-to-day worries that people experience. Intrusive thoughts tend to be more persistent and difficult to control. For some people with ADHD, intrusive thoughts can be so severe that they result in compulsions or avoidance behaviors.


Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that a person feels compelled to do in order to reduce the anxiety caused by the intrusive thought. Avoidance behaviors are things a person does to try to avoid the situation or place where they experienced the intrusive thought. Avoidance can also take the form of trying to distract oneself from thinking about the intrusive thought by engaging in other activities such as work, exercise, or excessive Cleaning Compulsions and avoidance behaviors can significantly interfere with a person’s quality of life.


What causes them?

The exact cause of intrusive thoughts is not known, but they are generally believed to be associated with stress or anxiety. People with ADHD may be more susceptible to experiencing intrusive thoughts because of the brain changes that occur in this condition. These changes can affect the parts of the brain responsible for executive functioning, which includes planning, organizing, and paying attention. This can lead to difficulties in managing stress and anxiety, which may trigger intrusive thoughts. In addition, impulsivity and hyperactivity may make it harder for a person with ADHD to resist engaging in compulsions or avoidance behaviors once an intrusive thought occurs.


How are they treated?

There is no specific treatment for intrusions Thoughts However, there are some general things that can help reduce their frequency and impact, such as practices like mindfulness meditation and breathing exercises; getting regular exercise; getting enough sleep; and managing stress through relaxation techniques or therapy. If compulsions or avoidance behaviors are causing significant interference in someone’s life, then treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may be necessary. Medications such as antidepressants may also be helpful in reducing the frequency and intensity of intrusions Thoughts If you think you might be experiencing intrusions Thoughts, talk to your doctor about what you’re experiencing. They can help you figure out if what you’re experiencing is normal or if there might be an underlying condition that needs treatment.


In conclusion, Intrusive Thoughts are defined as “unwanted, repetitive images or ideas that can cause anxiety or distress." They tend to be more persistent and difficult to control than regular day-to-day worries. For some people with ADHD, intrusive thoughts can be so severe that they result in compulsions or avoidance behaviors. If you think you might be experiencing intrusions Thoughts, talk to your doctor about what you’re experiencing. They can help you figure out if what you’re experiencing is normal or if there might be an underlying condition that needs treatment.


Coach Brooke Schnittman

For more tools to manage your intrusive thoughts as triggered by your ADHD please check out our website at coachingwithbrooke.com or fill out a complimentary 30-minute consultation to see if we're a good fit https://www.coachingwithbrooke.com/letusshowyouhow.



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