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The Danger Of Irrational Obsessive Thoughts or Cognitive Distortions

A wide range of medical, psychological and psychiatric issues can get triggered when we become obsessed with a particular thought. If we stubbornly hold on to these thoughts, they will soon overwrite our logical and rational minds. And if we continue to persist with these thoughts, they will start to reconstruct and change our brain structure and produce abnormal activities in our brain. These changes in our brain can lead to some severe mental health conditions such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), eating disorders, and depression.

Early detection is our social responsibility.

In this article, we wish to bring awareness about the danger of irrational and obsessive thoughts and to educate people that once they experience these thoughts, they need to seek professional help. Early prevention is necessary. Most people who need therapy at this stage may be too distressed and traumatized by their "thoughts," so it is crucial for family members and friends to help them.

"Perfection is an imperfection."

If you hear from a few people around you that you are "not thinking straight," "you're irrational," or "you are confused", or if you often find yourself in situations where people misunderstand you or do not get you, it is time to seek help. You can scale your mental health pain before talking to your therapist or calling 360 Wellness Hub's friendly therapist for a session.

Below are some serious medical conditions that irrational thoughts can trigger.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

The central feature of DSM-5 body dysmorphic disorder is a preoccupation with one or more perceived defects or flaws in physical appearance that are either not observable or appear slight to others. People who suffer from BDD can become highly distressed by a perceived physical anomaly, such as a scar, the shape or size of a body part, or some other personal feature. BDD has overlapping features with other mental health issues known as OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder. As the disorder progresses, people around the person will start to notice the person performing repetitive behaviours.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

We can become a bit obsessed with our thoughts when faced with an emergency or a crisis. But to be diagnosed with OCD, the individual will experience obsessional thoughts and/or compulsions that are time-consuming (more than an hour a day), cause significant distress and impair work or social functioning. OCD affects slightly more women than men. There are four common ways that OCD manifest: (1) contamination/washing, (2) doubt/checking, (3) ordering/arranging, and (4) unacceptable/taboo thoughts.

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Many people with anxiety have severe problems with anxious and irrational thinking - thoughts many know are irrational, yet they struggle to convince themselves of the more logical and reasoned response. These unhelpful thoughts may have contributed to the development of anxiety. Some mental health conditions that lead to persistent, irrational thoughts include GAD, bipolar disorder and BDD.

Bi-Polar Disorder

Bipolar disorder comes in two forms: maniac and hypomania. Both manic and hypomania episodes will include three or more of these symptoms: - Abnormally upbeat, jumpy or wired.

- Increased activity, energy or agitation.

- Exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence (euphoria).

- The decreased need for sleep.

- Unusual talkativeness.

- Racing thoughts.

- Distractibility.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a serious and potentially life-threatening — but treatable — eating disorder. It's characterized by extreme food restriction and an intense fear of gaining weight. People with AN see themselves as fat no matter how skinny they have become or how low their weight has gone. Parts of the brain undergo structural changes and abnormal activity during anorexic states. Reduced heart rate, which could deprive the brain of oxygen. Nerve-related conditions include seizures, disordered thinking, and numbness or odd nerve sensations in the hands or feet. Anorexia nervosa may be divided into two subtypes:

- Restricting, in which severe limitation of food intake is the primary means of weight loss.

- Binge-eating/purging type, in which periods of food intake are compensated by self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, and/or excessive exercise.


People who suffer from depression often get stuck with a single or several intrusive thoughts that arise frequently. These types of repetitive, intrusive thoughts are known as 'rumination'. People who easily get upset and brood over a problem repeatedly in their daily lives are called ruminators.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BDP)

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe psychiatric disorder that occurs in 1% to 6% of the general population The disorder is characterized by fragile self-images, poor impulse control, emotional instability, and self-injurious behaviour. Moreover, BPD often accompanies comorbid depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and addiction. Patients with BPD experience difficulties in “mentalizing” (or “cognitive empathy”), which refers to the ability to reflect upon one’s own and others’ mental states in terms of intentions, beliefs, desires, or feelings. Studies in BPD have shown that patients are unimpaired or even better than controls in emotional empathy but perform more poorly in cognitive empathy tasks. BDP tends to be hypersensitive toward negative emotions and tends to ascribe negative emotions to even neutral facial expressions.


About the Author


Dr. Lennie Soo

Founder and Clinical Director of 360 Wellness Hub.

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