Your brain is often like a chatty toddler who is constantly babbling in your ear. While you can use this self-talk for a positive outcome, nobody is immune occasional irrational thoughts.

Three Types of Intrusive Thoughts

What if these bothersome thoughts become irrational and interfere with your life and relationships? These are often signs of a mental illness that needs attention. It’s important to recognize these intrusive and often irrational thought patterns.

Negative Thoughts:

These are when your self-talk is constantly lying to you by whispering that you’re not good enough, and everyone looks down on you. Soon, you start to believe this destructive dialog. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental issues.

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Overt Sensual Thoughts:

While it’s normal for you to have fantasies, some may make you feel uncomfortable, and you push them aside. It only becomes a serious issue if you’re fixated on overt sensual thoughts and are compelled to act on them.

Violent Thoughts:

Who hasn’t been cut off in traffic and wished ill of the careless driver? The average person may have sudden bursts of violent thoughts, but they instantly realize it’s irrational and don’t act on it. If you have chronic thought patterns of hurting someone or yourself, it’s time to seek professional help.

Seven Mental Illnesses with Irrational Thoughts

Although mental health experts can’t fully explain mental illness or its causes, they can get a general idea from a pattern of symptoms. Irrational thoughts are often a common denominator in these seven mental disorders:

1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD has many facets, depending on the person. According to an article published by the National Institute of Mental Health, OCD is characterized by obsessive thoughts. These thoughts make the person repeat behaviors compulsively to relieve their anxiety.

It seems like OCD has become a buzzword in modern psych-pop culture. Some people may label themselves as OCD because they are picky or have a strict routine. However, OCD is a severe disorder diagnosed by a mental health provider, and it’s not just a personality quirk.

If you have been professionally diagnosed with OCD, you understand the irrational thoughts involved. Your symptoms may vary from other patients in severity and frequency. For example, you may have the foolish and obsessive idea that someone could sneak into your locked door. To ease your anxiety, you feel compelled to check the lock every 15 minutes or so or keep unlocking it and locking again.

The obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors work together to create a perfect storm of mental oppression. In this case, it usually begins with irrational thinking patterns. An article published by the International OCD Foundation shares that this anxiety disorder is often successfully treated with cognitive behavior therapy and other remedies.

2. Schizophrenia

Even in the 21st century, there are still many misconceptions about this severe mental illness. Because the prefix schizo means “split,” many people confuse schizophrenia with a dissociative identity disorder. Both disorders share the hallmark of irrational thoughts, but people with schizophrenia usually don’t have multiple personalities.

One of the hallmark symptoms of schizophrenia is a breakdown in thought processes. The National Institute of Mental Health published an article that says that these invasive thought patterns disrupt the person’s perceptions, emotional responsiveness, and social interactions. As with most mental illnesses, schizophrenia symptoms may vary, but they can be profoundly disabling.

The irrational thoughts accompanying schizophrenia often led to delusions, which are distortions of reality. These may include delusions of grandeur, where patients believe they are someone famous or have superhuman powers. Their distorted thought patterns may also make them paranoid, where they think that unseen villains are out to destroy them.

Another disturbing symptom of schizophrenia is auditory and visual hallucinations. It is the affected brain’s way of bringing intrusive thoughts into a false reality. People with schizophrenia often see and hear things that aren’t there and act upon them. It can be dangerous not only for the patient but also for others around them.

Unfortunately, there are no cures for schizophrenia. However, early intervention after the first symptoms manifest can be helpful. Doctors often treat this mental illness with a combination of antipsychotic medications, intense therapy, and mental health intervention.

3. Psychosis

Psychotic disorders are a group of mental illnesses characterized by irrational thoughts and a total break with the real world. Schizophrenia is one of the primary disorders in the group. However, other forms of psychoses exist separately and sometimes simultaneously with schizophrenia.

The difference is how long the patient’s symptoms last. For a diagnosis of schizophrenia, the psychotic symptoms usually last six months or longer. If they last for at least a month but shorter than six, the patient will probably be diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder.

Schizophreniform Disorder:

According to an article published by the Cleveland Clinic, people diagnosed with this condition will also present with visual/auditory hallucinations and disorganized thought processes. They usually will exhibit abnormal behaviors and have trouble communicating with others.

Schizoaffective Disorder:

This is another relative of schizophrenia, and they share many of the same disruptive symptoms. However, those who’ve been diagnosed with schizoaffective also present with periodic mood disorders.

In addition to irrational thought patterns and psychotic behaviors, they may also have symptoms of depression and mania. It’s often difficult to diagnose because of the many overlapping signs and symptoms. Anti-psych medications and various therapies can help patients cope with their mental illness.

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Other Psychotic Disorders:

Other related disorders have delusions and reality disruptions as a common theme. They include schizotypal, delusional, and brief psychotic disorders. Since they are so similar, it requires an experienced mental health professional to diagnose them correctly.

4. Paranoid Personality Disorders

Negative self-talk can wreak havoc on you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. People who have irrational thoughts about their self-worth may develop a paranoid personality disorder. For these diagnosed patients, the whole world is “out to get them.”

Paranoia changes the patient’s perception of what’s happening or what others have to say. They misinterpret everything as a threat or something evil. They will often avoid any socialization for fear of someone hurting them. Often, they believe that aliens, real government agencies, or fictional ones like the Illuminati are following them.

5. Avoidant Personality Disorders

Have you ever seen people who are socially awkward and always seem like a wallflower at parties? Their condition may go beyond shyness. People diagnosed with avoidant personality disorders listen to irrational thoughts and believe they are inferior to everyone else.

Even though they are usually intelligent, people with this disorder are always speaking negatively about themselves. They miss out on the joys of life and meeting other extraordinary people because they think they aren’t “good enough.”

6. Narcissistic Personality Disorders

The flip side of avoidant personality is the narcissist or person diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder. Their irrational thoughts make them believe that they are superior to everyone else and are above social rules.

If you’ve ever known people with this disorder, you understand how difficult they are in professional or personal relationships. Narcissists often use people to their advantage and will do just about anything to make themselves look good.

Unfortunately, they often target people with avoidant personalities and will create abuse, toxic relationships. It’s challenging to treat narcissistic personality disorders because those affected are delusionally thought they are perfect.

7. Borderline Personality Disorder

This is another severe mental illness that includes irrational thought patterns and delusions. According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic, BPD affects how people think about themselves and others. Those diagnosed with BPD usually have a debilitating fear of abandonment, which causes erratic thoughts and behaviors.

Ironically, they fear being left alone, yet violent mood swings drive others away, says the article. People with BPD usually have self-talk that is destructive to their self-worth and esteem. They will listen to intrusive thoughts and try to shift their identity, values, and goals.

Since they have extreme separation anxiety, people with BPD will often latch on to a person as a “security blanket.” At first, they may consider their chosen person as flawless, and they can’t live without them. Unfortunately, their mood can shift, and they can start to hate this person with a passion.

Understandably, this mental illness doesn’t allow people to have any meaningful relationships. Their ever-changing moods lead to risky behaviors and compulsions like gambling, substance abuse, and dangerous promiscuity.

Although medicine knows that Borderline Personality Disorder is challenging to treat because of the patient’s mindset, they know it can work. A combination of anti-psych medications and different therapeutic approaches can be helpful. This disease is incurable, but mental health intervention may help patients have fewer symptoms to have a better life.

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Final Thoughts on Irrational Thinking and Mental Illness

Just because you have a fleeting thought that’s irrational doesn’t mean you’re mentally ill. However, when these thoughts are chronically invading your mind and creating chaos in your life, it’s time to talk to a mental health provider. With their help, you can restructure your thought patterns and retake control of your life.