The Relationship Between Intrusive Thoughts and OCD


Kareli Gutierrez (12th), Reporter

Intrusive thoughts: unwanted thoughts that enter someone’s mind. OCD: recurring thoughts that people have and/or behaviors that people have the urge to repeat. People usually think that these two topics don’t interact but the reality is that most of the time they go hand-in-hand. 

Before getting into the specifics I asked Victoria Spears, a senior at Pitman High School, how she thought these two interacted and she responded, “I think intrusive thoughts and OCD correlate because OCD is itself a disorder that stems from intrusive thoughts.”

This response is actually a pretty good description of their relationship. Although everybody gets intrusive thoughts, people with OCD have a harder time getting rid of these thoughts. Usually these thoughts may be extremely disturbing for the person and so they will repeat actions to calm them down or they will avoid situations to keep calm. This calm state may only last for a couple days or minutes though and then it will once again reappear.

Intrusive thoughts and OCD can actually cause anxiety. The harder a person tries to push away these thoughts, the harder they come back. The more the person has to repeat actions until it feels right, the more stressful and agonizing it becomes. This may also lead to a harder time focusing on tasks which can lead to procrastination which may then lead to anxiety about the work that was supposed to be done but is still incomplete.

People react differently to these intrusive thoughts and OCD. Some people may seem perfectly composed on the outside but are suffering from these two problems. On the other hand, someone else may be visually distressed. That doesn’t mean that one is worse or better than the other because in the end both are suffering from the same thing. 

It may seem scary for many to have to try and get help because they might feel ashamed or frightened, but getting help is a great step forward. Going to therapy helps people release their stress and worry. Therapists can help the person understand what they are going through and help them try to find different techniques to cope with their anxiety.

I asked Victoria Spears when she thinks that a person suffering from intrusive thoughts and OCD should get help and she responded with, “Like any other mental problem, I think it is important for someone to get help when they notice that they are experiencing it. It is important to control intrusive thoughts  and OCD before it gets bad, but no matter where a person is on their journey, it’s never too late to get help for it.”

Struggling with intrusive thoughts and OCD at the same time is a tough situation that many don’t share. Dealing with a mental illness doesn’t make anyone less human and understanding these two topics is a great way to help others. Remember: There is great power in understanding and kindness.