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Dealing With Intrusive Thoughts and Paranoia

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 17 May 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Dealing With Intrusive Thoughts And Paranoia

Intrusive thoughts and paranoia are one of the OCD symptoms that cause the most anxiety and distress, as sufferers often feel that these intrusions mean that they are a bad person.

This can understandably cause paranoia, and often becomes a prominent obsession that cannot be shifted. Intrusive thoughts and paranoia are related to the obsession side of OCD. This article discusses intrusive thoughts, images and impulses as a symptom of OCD.

What Are Intrusive Thoughts?

These refer to the violent or sexual thoughts, images and impulses that frequently enter the minds of OCD sufferers against their will. These affect almost everyone at some point, but most people can easily push them aside and forget about them. For OCD sufferers, doing this is difficult or even impossible. The intrusions repeatedly plague OCD sufferers, despite any attempts to suppress them.

Examples of Intrusive Thoughts and Paranoia

Intrusive thoughts, images and impulses can take a number of forms, but it is common for them to be of a violent or sexual nature. For example, some OCD sufferers have intrusive thoughts or images that are related to harming themselves or people close to them. Other common intrusive thoughts, impulses and images are of a sexual nature, and may concern family members or young children.

Such thoughts and images cause a lot of anxiety to OCD sufferers in case they are an indication of incestuous or perverse feelings. Although these types of thoughts and images are highly distressing, it is rare that they will actually be acted on, despite feeling very real. The intrusions are purely mental.

Intrusive thoughts can be as simple as feeling that your hands are contaminated by germs. This intrusion is usually followed by a compulsion to wash your hands repeatedly to clean them.

How Can Intrusive Thoughts Affect OCD Sufferers?

Intrusive thoughts are often accompanied by paranoia, and this combination can have a big effect on OCD sufferers. They tend to increase over time, becoming more frequent and intense. In many cases, compulsions are performed to reduce the anxiety caused by intrusive thoughts and paranoia.

Intrusive thoughts and paranoia can have a significant effect on relationships with family and friends. Some OCD sufferers may find that it affects their job, particularly if they have trouble concentrating on anything else.

Intrusive thoughts and paranoia are some of the common symptoms of OCD. These thoughts and images are often violent or sexual. They frequently enter the mind and refuse to disappear, which can leave many OCD sufferers questioning their character. Many OCD sufferers feel that they are crazy, disgusting or evil for thinking the intrusive thoughts in the first place, and are afraid that they will actually carry out what is happening in the intrusive thoughts, images and impulses.

This is not true, but this paranoia can easily take hold of individuals with OCD as the feelings triggered by intrusive thoughts and images can feel very real. Over time, intrusive thoughts and images can turn into obsessions, and can be very difficult to get rid of. It is worth holding onto the fact that although they may be very unpleasant and disturbing, the intrusions are only in the mind. It is rare that OCD sufferers are actually compelled to carry out what is happening in the mind.

Reader's Comment:

One of our readers has experienced this and offers the following tips:

The best way to deal with these types of thoughts is actually to just let them run their course, meaning just ignore them. I've suffered with them for over 17years, but that is not constantly. If you dwell on them, they become stronger, because you mark them and they become hard to get rid of. If you ignore and do not try to fight them, they will ease and go away.Good food to eat for OCD is banana - least one a day.

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I have anxiety since I was 14, panic attacks, palpitations you name it. I have beaten it so many times and I have even endured mickey taking. And of all the mickey taker's I have actually counselled them after they suffered it. But it had reappeared and I'm struggling to get rid again its the thought I could hurt those close to me especially my son who I love so very deeply, I need help getting back on track and I need to nip this in the bud. Help.
Tomo - 17-May-16 @ 9:15 AM
I've had issues with intrusive thoughts and paranoia since I was around 14 (now 26) googling how to deal with them has brought me to this page, I haven't been diagnosed with ocd and the thoughts are usually of a different nature to the examples here(for example, would usually be about someone wanting to hurt me as opposed to me wanting to hurt them) but i have had similar thoughts in the past. Am wondering if anyone diagnosed with OCD has had intrusive thoughts to do with friends betraying them or partners being unfaithful etc. most of these thoughts are pretty much 100% irrational and only take the tinyest thing to trigger them and once they present themselves it's near enough immpossible to get rid of them without reassurance and I have found myself developing what could be seen as compulsions as a coping method.
eXpoJah - 9-Mar-16 @ 11:26 AM
Reading all these comments has made me feel so much better.... I made my situation a lot worse...I was getting intrusive thoughts and told my best friend everything which would of been ok if I didn't tell her the thoughts I was having about her children....I had this urge to tell her and just seemed to come out of nowhere.she was very supportive and came to a and e with me where I spoke to some from child services as I was convinced that jadbdone some thing a few years ago...the police got involvedI was questioned by police and I felt awful...he kept telling me it was all in my head but I truly believed I Did something still do tbh...80% of me now believes nothing happened but the other part keep questioning did I? Am I thinking its all in my head to get I've what I did??? It drove me mad...anyway my best friend of over 10 years told everyone my closet friends and her partner that I hate with a passion!! I understand y she was pissed off don't get me wrong I said things about herchildren!!! I was so hurt that she had betrayed my trust its taken me months to get over it...I am going for cbt at some point just waiting for appointment......honestly guys I couldn't get off the sofa for weeks, kept breaking down at work, wanted to kill myself it was awful....the heardest bit of all of it is seeking professional help but you have to remember they are here to help and will not judge you!! Keep being strong it does get easier believe me I still have bad days but no where near as bad as I was
ocd - 5-Mar-16 @ 11:08 PM
Im off work at the moment due to anxiety/intrusive thoughts, ive had ocd forever but i didnt really make an impact untill 18 years ago since then i have been on prozac 60mg and basically got my life back together, had a few little stresses and strains during that time but no missed work. Untill august this year, low mood anxiety depression and bang a thought because i was low it hit me, then again and again and again since august i have been to work but last weekend was the pinnacle of it because i havent had it for so long acutely, it hit me hard so i went to see odoc and my doc and have been signed off for A month, dont no what to do with myself Apart from wanting to sleep a lot
Taximan42 - 27-Nov-15 @ 7:41 PM
I suffered with severe depression and anxiety 3 years ago, to the extent that I had 3 months off work and spent £1000 on counselling. I am no longer depressed to the point of despair but it seems to have manifested itself in this constant state of worry, paranoia and its expanding to other things like cleaning and checking the locks many times. Intrusive thoughts are dreadful, they can be very powerful and debilitating. Sometimes I go through phases where I am on the fringes of not being able to function. I accept that there is no magic cure, it's part of my make up but I have to find a way of managing it before it all becomes psychosomatic. My hair is thinning and my eating habits go through extremes of feast or famine. I have a loving wife, a successful career but I walk in a haze of thought processes that constantly dictate my mood, it is a daily battle!! I find some comfort through prayer, I am not that religious but asking for support, kind of helps me, however it is a sticky plaster approach until the next bout. I previously took Citalapram, it helped during my depression, just not convinced it is the way forward. Reading through this site shows just how common it is, that I am not crazy or abnormal, but suffer from a very real condition therefore thank you for your help. I really do not know what my next step is, GP's are less than understanding in my experience, family would think I have lost my marbles but I so want to be free of the OCD/depressive chains.
Davey - 11-Sep-15 @ 1:39 PM
Stu - Your Question:
Guys this is makes me feel normal. I think you all have great courage just posting your experiences. I have had anxiety all my life. And intrusive thoughts just seem part of that. My thoughts are mostly always violent or sexual. Meditation and allowing the thoughts works most of the time for getting rid of them. But it's the feeling of guilt and what other people might think if they seen the horrible intrusive thought that I have, that is hard to deal with sometimes. Also the fear that the thoughts mean you want to do the act is also hard. A good tip is to get your self really still and relaxed, then bring up the thoughts, most of the time when I do this I see them for what they are just fear. It makes it easier the next time they come up.

Our Response:
Thanks for sharing your tips and experiences, it will be really helpful to other readers.
OCDSymptoms - 21-Aug-15 @ 1:50 PM
Guys this is makes me feel normal. I think you all have great courage just posting your experiences. I have had anxiety all my life. And intrusive thoughts just seem part of that. My thoughts are mostly always violent or sexual. Meditation and allowing the thoughts works most of the time for getting rid of them. But it's the feeling of guilt and what other people might think if they seen the horrible intrusive thought that I have, that is hard to deal with sometimes. Also the fear that the thoughts mean you want to do the act is also hard. A good tip is to get your self really still and relaxed, then bring up the thoughts, most of the time when I do this I see them for what they are just fear. It makes it easier the next time they come up.
Stu - 20-Aug-15 @ 12:32 PM
Do your intrusive thoughts feel so real that you believe you have committed the act you're worrying about?
Fearful - 13-Aug-15 @ 3:14 AM
Its a terrifying experience,I would have preferred something I could see and fight but its the mind,I have always had intrusive thoughts,sexual especially,I almost went nut but writting them down helped,lately I went through a breakup and I was doing just fine untill I heard of a girl who killed herself after her boyfriend left her,all of a sudden I started having these thoughts of killing myself,I hate it so much I just want to screammmmmm,I live in africa,therapists are not common here,so I have not been to one,I just put faith in God,I hate all this.I believe its ocd.what can I do?
overt - 12-Jul-15 @ 8:51 PM
I have had depression,anxiety all my life iam 28 now and I was told by cbt I have ocd negative thoughts.which include wishing love ones dead its so bad at times iam a loving caring person always have been and have always been a good person to everyone.... Its rekt my life going to doctors soon never told them I have ocd hope they can offer me help all the best to all on here
bob - 29-Jan-15 @ 9:53 PM
Please help.. I'm 28 and first noticed ocd at 18. I've believed I've fancied a dog to once being a prostitute, having hiv, cancer to liking same sex to being paranoid of shaving of my hair, it's absolutely a lonely horrible dark place. Been on various antidepressants. Can anyone share with me and talk? Also was paranoid my unborn was with another man even though I never cheated. Happened with all 3 of my babies. It's killing me??
Taivenkade - 22-Jan-15 @ 10:15 PM
@Gabbyx. You should ideally see a councillor to get some help with this. You can never pinpoint the exact day of conception with that accuracy so you are letting your mind/OCD tendencies take over and build up. Your GP may be able to refer you to someone who can help.
OCDSymptoms - 22-Dec-14 @ 12:11 PM
After reading this article I can completley relate to these individuals circumstances. I myself believe I am a sufferer I am in a serious relationship and 3 months pregnant I have previously had obsessions with irons and plugs and the has being switched off when I really know it is I have had to check it multiple times otherwise I feel anxiety and out of control and I cannot simply concentrate which has lead me to being late in work and driving my partner crazing asking him to do the same thing repetitively. I am now 3 months pregnant I really do Know this isn't the case but when I had my ultra sound the dates for conception which are always an estimation fell on a date we did not have sex and I had infact went out with a girlfriend for drinks I never believed before this point anything had happened and I had looked after my friend all night and took her home to mine and my partners house but I became consumed by the idea that I had cheated on him and this was to good to be true I remember running through events and messaging every single male I spoke to and had vague conversations which were innocent I would never cheat on him and I am a nice person I even remember falling out with him that very night and talking to people about him saying I should go home I miss him so that alone shows how irrational my behaviour was and I wouldn't dream of sleeping with a stranger let a lone somebody in a club but now I'm racked with all these made up scenarios and I'm loosing touch with reality I've considered a paterntity test for 900 but what is the point it is feeding my OCD and my partner won't understand that I haven't done anything and that this is to put my OCD mind at rest I'm in complete despair
Gabbyx - 19-Dec-14 @ 4:20 PM
I'm the stepmom of an OCD young adult with severe intrusive thoughts.Glad I found this article because now I'm able to understand him better.He has thoughts of harming his little sister. I live consumed in fear, only my faith in God helps me keep walking day after day.He's in counseling and medication but nothing seems to help.I'll lift a prayer for everything in the same situation.
wanttohelpmyOCDsteps - 22-May-14 @ 3:04 AM
I have also suffered for many years, forty to be exact and I have finally made an appointment to see my doctor.I have never told anyone about my obsession and just hope the doctor will listen!I don't want to be fobbed off with tablets I need help!
Trish - 16-May-14 @ 3:24 PM
I have suffered severe ocd since I was 7 yrs old. I am now 55, it has had a devastating negative effect on my whole life, failed degree, failed relationships, career opportunities etc. All those years ago ocd was unheard of and I considered myself completely nuts, I have suffered anxiety, depression and panic attacks all my life, I have always wished I was normal, its been totally exhausting and it hurts so much. Tomorrow February 12th I am finally going to the doctors and actually telling someone my problem, previously I have been totally ashamed and embarrassed to confess to my illness, however I am now at breaking point.
matt - 11-Feb-14 @ 2:45 PM
I have been dealing with OCD intrusive thoughts since I was a little girl. It wasn't until last year that I actually realized that there was a name for my problem which had given me much relief but I still was very sad and anxious about the horrible thoughts. When I was a child they would come and go and it would be terrible sexual thoughts about men I knew and it horrified me... But I was too embarrassed not to tell anybody I had many more since then but then I went about 10 years completely fine. Just over a year ago I had horrible 24/7 thoughts about killing my sweet little boys and that through me over the deep end. I really thought I was an evil mom and that I could actually hurt them. I finally broke down and got some help! I told my husband and though he did not understand he supported me any way I needed and the counselor told me how common this was and it was actually a disorder which gave me so much relief. Then I read a few great books about OCD intrusive thoughts and it helped me with exercises on how to deal with the thoughts. Now with the help of God, my husband and coping methods I can live happily normal and when my horrible thoughts come I realize them and do not try to ignore or make them go away and believe it or not they go away on their own. Please never feel like your alone no matter what your thoughts are you have a disorder that can be treated with or without medication and nobody is perfect so embrace who you are, don't be ashamed and don't be afraid to tell people... You'd be surprised how many people deal with this. For what it's worth to you all you will be in my prayers!!
Sarah - 3-Aug-13 @ 6:57 PM
I have suffered ocd,depression and anxiexy for years and it destroys my life. so many times I have thought of suicide but couldn't leave my daughter, the hard thing is is having the the intrusive thoughts about my daughter that make my life hell, I feel for each and every one who has to go through this hell day in day out coz its a livin nitemare. I have bad thoughts about evrythin possible but the sexual ones about my girl are unbearable,im on medication and have councelling but no one can take this monster away...if only it would go away and leave me alone id b able to function and get on with life. my girl is my worldand I know id never harm her but when this devil starts doubting you, you cant help but question it? I hopeone day it goes forever and anyone who reads this I realy hope you too can find peace!!
hayes - 12-Jun-13 @ 5:51 PM
i am having unwated sexual thoughts and cant stand it
lele - 20-Dec-12 @ 11:37 PM
Hi think I've suffered with OCD thoughts for a long time. about 3 years ago I got thoughts about jumping of a car park in town and it just started to consume my life. I even went as far as every time i was in town I would avoid going near the place. Fortunately for me I moved away for a while and sorted it out. However lately for the last 10 months I have been having intrusive thoughts about my sexuality. It started way back in February when I became engaged to my lovey young lady it was the week after I started thinking have I done the right thing and then I started thinking what if I'm gay and I'm just trying to cover it up. gradually this thought got bigger and bigger but every time I thought about it I would feel sick and anxious and start believing the thoughts. However I knew this was ridiculous because I had always fancied women. Still it got stronger and stronger to the point where it was driving me mad. however in time I started to deal with it and it went a way for a while. However recently it's popped back up again and It's getting to me. Please any advice I would appreciate.
brado - 13-Dec-12 @ 6:25 PM
Hi think I've suffered with OCD thoughts for a long time. about 3 years ago I got thoughts about jumping of a car park in town and it just started to consume my life. I even went as far as every time i was in town I would avoid going near the place. Fortunately for me I moved away for a while and sorted it out. However lately for the last 10 months I have been having intrusive thoughts about my sexuality. It started way back in February when I became engaged to my lovey young lady it was the week after I started thinking have I done the right thing and then I started thinking what if I'm gay and I'm just trying to cover it up. gradually this thought got bigger and bigger but every time I thought about it I would feel sick and anxious and start believing the thoughts. However I knew this was ridiculous because I had always fancied women. Still it got stronger and stronger to the point where it was driving me mad. however in time I started to deal with it and it went a way for a while. However recently it's popped back up again and It's getting to me. Please any advice I would appreciate.
brado - 13-Dec-12 @ 6:25 PM
Hi think I've suffered with OCD thoughts for a long time. about 3 years ago I got thoughts about jumping of a car park in town and it just started to consume my life. I even went as far as every time i was in town I would avoid going near the place. Fortunately for me I moved away for a while and sorted it out. However lately for the last 10 months I have been having intrusive thoughts about my sexuality. It started way back in February when I became engaged to my lovey young lady it was the week after I started thinking have I done the right thing and then I started thinking what if I'm gay and I'm just trying to cover it up. gradually this thought got bigger and bigger but every time I thought about it I would feel sick and anxious and start believing the thoughts. However I knew this was ridiculous because I had always fancied women. Still it got stronger and stronger to the point where it was driving me mad. however in time I started to deal with it and it went a way for a while. However recently it's popped back up again and It's getting to me. Please any advice I would appreciate.
brado - 13-Dec-12 @ 6:24 PM
I started having intrusive thoughts when I was about 15 and in high school, usually just of people’s faces. I used to count floor and ceiling tiles a lot during class, and never knew why…it was just fun to me. It made me mad that I couldn’t control my thoughts with people’s faces though. It lessened over time, and years later I self-diagnosed this OCD disorder. I’ve never talked to a professional, or been on medicine for OCD and don’t want to be. I’m 40 now, and still have bouts of intrusive thinking (experiencing some tonight, actually). Just relax, it will pass.
jon smith - 8-Oct-12 @ 1:10 AM
I have suffered from Intrusive thoughts ocd my whole life but only recently has it turned more morbid and much worse. I was addicted to vicodin and once I decided to stop the withdrawals put my mind under alot of stress and the ocd went haywire. At first I was obsess with death and scared of death than it turned to my worst fear of losing my child to circumstances that where out of my control than a month later I started having thoughts of hurting my children which to me was the worse since my children are like the air I breathe. This have been going on for over a month now I've seen some relief since researching and finding that so many others suffer from this type of ocd and for the first time I see light at the end of the tunnel and I don't consider myself a monster.
darthpoe - 27-Sep-12 @ 7:34 PM
Pls start all with b complex. It helps....god bless :)
rita - 25-Sep-12 @ 3:47 PM
I'm relieved that other ppl are going thrum this to and I'm not alone ive been suffering from thoughts of sexually harming my son the first couple times I cried about but now it started making me question weither or not there was something wrong with me like I was a pedophile or something although my son is 5 and these thoughts just started happening this last year the sexual ones....but as I thought about it I realized that in the past years ive had thoughts of physically harming him like I could actually imagine it and play it out in my mind but I kind of shrugged it off because I know I wouldn't do something like that but for whatever reason the sexual intrusive thoughts really bother me more although I know I would never act on them
me1122 - 16-Sep-12 @ 5:12 AM
I am 20 years old, and I remember having such intrusive thoughts since I was a child. I remember wondering about breaking toys I liked and this kind of thing. As I grew up, this has persisted, thinking about breaking things I like or offending people I love. Though it has never been at a disturbing level, recently I began wondering if I really could do those things - and, consequently, if I had schizophrenia, though I have never heard or seen anything. I'm very glad to have read this text and all the comments, it feels it will really ease all of that. I also have heard that OCD is genetically transmitted, and in family my father and my greatgrandmother (his grandmother) have suffered of OCD allied to strong and chronical depression. My mother divorced from my father due to it. Now he's on medicine for more than a decade and has become a mild hoarder. Also, I have been target of obsessions and compulsions ever since I can remember. Things such as touching the left and right side of things the same number of times, touching centers of circles, obsession with handwriting letters this and that way, etc. All of them easy-to-handle obsessions, but when I was a teenager things started to get out of control. I got a girlfriend and we started having sex, but we only started: my obsessions with cleanliness generated a strong paranoia about making her pregnant. I watched out everything, always washed hands, washed the taps I used to wash my hands (writing this is even funny), and, after it was over, I kind of avoided physical contact to prevent spreading unnoticed sperm. Far beyong using condoms, I started wondering about every single way every single drop of sperm could make its way. I remember having sexual activity felt like handling radioactive substances. After four intercourses, two pregnancy tests and considering suicide a lot of times as escape for the fear I felt that she had became pregnant, I started thinking she might be trying to get pregnant purposely, and I stopped having sex. After two and half years, I distrusted her so much that I split up with her. In fact, she did nothing to deserve that distrust, except being a rather different girl (for reasons I myself could fairly well explain), which made me wonder how much different she would be. I never confessed this to anyone, until recently we started to meet again and I told her all of this. She said it's all an absurd, and we having been talking about getting together again. I came to this page seeking advice whether it's all in my head or not. Reading through butch77's comment, I found the "Evidence for and against list", about which I had already read. Spending just two minutes on it, I guess it's really an absurd. But the doubt pursues me so viciously...
abc - 9-Sep-12 @ 6:40 AM
My problem is worse because of this my fiance is gonna break up with me because each time he tries to disvirgin me my legs keeps on pushing him. My body wants sex but it seems my mind is not yet free ,i swear i feel like dying.
marvelous - 3-Sep-12 @ 2:11 PM
I cnt handle myself anymore, I am 19 . I don't know if i'm suffering from OCD. I do random hook ups but after that i feel like I have HIV ... The whole time I try telling myself that I dont have, it will go away for few minutes and then it will all come back again. I go for test and the result is negative after seeing the result I am extremly happy and do everything perfectly. But is not just about HIV , I have something new every week . I am always worried about something. I know its really stupid but one night I got so drank that I cant remember what happend at all, everyone is telling me that they got me home safe but I am worried about being pregnant !!! I cant remeber anything (at all) but there is this thought what if someone raped me and now i'm pregnant ??? I am sick and tired of myself ... I randomly cry and cant study anymore. I dont know what the hell is wrong with me ??? am just tired of being like this ! ! !
niloofar - 28-Aug-12 @ 8:39 PM
Hello everyone I am 28 years old and have been diagnosed with having pure o about five years ago - my specific problem is I have severe intrusive thoughts about harming others. It's been so good for a few years and my life has been great but the last 14 weeks have been pure hell! My OCD is worse than ever which has made me question who I am as a person. I am a very gentle person in nature very caring but my OCD is one of harm especially the people or things I love the most. I am currently on medication which does not seem to be working at all and my mind is clouded of awful thoughts 24/7 I am off work because I am simply petrified of what I could be capable of. I cry all the time and I am even physically sick! Concidering I have been through this before it still feels like hell! The doubt you experience with OCD is awful and scary. Does anybody else experience this and have any advice. I would kill myself before I hurt anybody even though my thoughts tell me otherwise
Small sprout - 13-Aug-12 @ 7:52 PM
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