Racing thoughts - When Mind chatter becomes Chronic
" Mania can be best described as an exhibition of irritability, nervousness or hyperactive behavior for more than a week. Other symptoms would include loss of appetite, ideas moving through the mind in quick succession, less hours of sleep, highly talkative with pressured speech. "
For a person having an episode of random thoughts, this is all in a day's work. They will be bombarded with multiple thoughts, most of them not even related, at any given time. Some tends to ignore these thoughts, while most of us lose focus of the task in hand and even experience a panic attack.
The irony is some of these mind fantasies will be pleasant in nature. They can range from past memories, future anticipations, life experiences, daily news, nostalgic moments, music notes etc. Psychology studies have summed some of the main causes of these erratic thought patterns.
- Bipolar Disorder :- Affected person undergo constant mood swings. Stages of severe depression suddenly changes to optimistic outlook, high self esteem and unexplained excitement.
- Anxiety/Panic attacks :- Characterized by crippling thoughts such as fear of sudden or unexpected injuries, accidents etc. The victim becomes hyper sensitive to all thoughts as well experiences in life. High mental stress and hyperactive behavior are other characteristics.
- Obsessive Compulsive disorder :- The affected person performs certain rituals or routines in day to day life such as checking the door locks from time to time, taking regular baths throughout the day, excessive self assessment. Most of these tasks are done due to the fear that something terrible might happen if these routines are not followed. OCD can lead to anxiety attacks as well as depression if left untreated.
- Social Phobia :- Fear of facing a large audience, meeting new people, crowded areas. Complete avoidance of public places and a tendency to isolate oneself from day to day activities.are other characteristics.
- At some point over excitement can result in increased thought patterns. This can be a sudden surge and can reduce after some time mostly when the cause of excitement has been removed.
- Fear of failure can make a person unable to accept risk even for a minor decision. This can split the thought process with one part in favor while other opposing the judgement. Result would be confused thinking pattern which locks up in a continuous loop.
Racing thoughts can cause unwanted stress to our daily life, not to mention loss of focus and concentration. There are number of steps by which these thought patterns can be changed.
They include :-
- Most thoughts are recreated by our mind, to ensure that we do not forget them. They might be vital in nature or something you care a lot about. For example, I plan to write this hub today. However due to certain circumstances, I kept this task in a back burner. Now a thought related to this particular event would be generated in my mind which will replay itself, until the hub is completed. To remove this thought from the mind, I can transfer this memory into a notepad or a " to do list " as this provides a confirmation to the impatient mind , that the task would be attended to.
- To get quick and instant relief, take a sip of Hot Coffee. The caffeine present. can provide a soothing effect to the mind. Also top it up with a slow music in the background. Recommended would be Sarah McLachlan, Enya, George Winston piano concerts. Choose any music of your liking, just make sure not to play Hard Rock, Metal genre as they can increase/elevate your thought patterns and become counter productive.
- There is a beautiful zen parable. A man decided to outrun his shadow.But however fast he moved, the shadow was always behind him. After a few hours, he gave up the effort and rested under a tree shade. The shadow disappeared instantly.This parable directs us that when we take a break from daily life events, the answer to even the greatest issue can be sorted out. Never try to do a self assessment when you are having a panic attack. Not only would it make it worse, but also give a false impression that the solution is out of our reach.
- Mindful awareness is a mind technique which is scientifically proven to reduce stress. It is based on the concept of Yoga, where the person directs his thoughts to the present moment. As stress related thinking comes either from the past or future, the troubling thoughts automatically ceases.
- Exercise with proper sleep quietens the mind, increases the clarity of thought and also soothes the mind.
- Antidepressant medication can provide an added boost as well as long term relief. Do consult a psychiatrist before taking the medication.
- Hydrating the body from time to time can reduce fatigue, which is one of the main cause of slurred thinking.