Help, I Can’t Turn Off My Thoughts: Dealing with Distress - Dr. Aimee Keith
We asked our clinicians to share what they wish more people knew about mental health. In this blog, Dr. Aimee Keith shows us how to manage upsetting and distressing thoughts.
Have you ever had thoughts that were upsetting or distressing? Like thoughts of hurting someone or driving your car off the road?
Our minds think countless thoughts per day — but not every thought has meaning. Some thoughts focus on future tasks, some focus on worries or regrets, and some are just strange and random. When strange and random thoughts are upsetting or distressing, we may wonder if these thoughts are signaling our secret desires.
We may even attempt to push distressing thoughts out of our minds, only to have them come right back. Pushing away distressing thoughts rarely works; it typically just creates more distressing thoughts.
Just as we have strange dreams, our minds have strange thoughts in our waking hours. Some thoughts are simply the random creations of a mind piecing together, at times, wildly strange images and ideas. These images are distressing because we assign meaning to them.
When your mind comes up with a thought that might be upsetting, state out loud, “Wow, that was a weird thought,”and give no more power to it.
Our thoughts are not who we are; they do not define us. So, the next time you have an odd thought, instead of pushing it away, marvel at your strange, random, creative, and constantly-thinking mind and be sure to give those upsetting thoughts no power.
Aimee Keith, PsyD is a Licensed Psychologist and Primary Therapist at Eating Recovery Center and Insight Behavioral Health Center in San Antonio, TX.
A note from ERC/Insight:
The intent of World Mental Health Day, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. This year, in 2018, WHO hopes to raise awareness of mental health issues in young people and adolescents.
- Half of all people with mental illness will show signs before the age of 14. Sadly, most of these individuals will not be identified as having a health problem. No treatment will be provided.
- Drug and alcohol use among adolescents is prevalent in many countries. This is highly risky behavior as it can lead to unsafe sex and impulsive, dangerous driving.
- In those between the ages of 15 and 29, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
Drug/alcohol use and suicide are signs of mental health issues. Treatment and intervention for these issues is available and can be highly effective. It’s never too late to admit that you need help. It’s never too late to make a phone call to a therapist, a crisis hotline or even a friend. It’s never too late to make a change.
We offer these resources to you, to help you give yourself or a loved one a better experience in this life.
- To speak confidentially with one of our Master’s-level counselors about treatment options for mental health issues, please call us at 1-877-711-1690.
- If you are facing a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, confidential support to people in distress at 1-800-273-8255.
The call you make may save a life.
References: The World Health Organization & National Eating Disorders Association