Distressing intrusive thoughts about self harm may be the least known intrusive thoughts in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Most people think OCD pertains only to keeping things neat and orderly or compulsive hand washing. People don’t often share obsessive intrusive thoughts about self harm. This type of OCD doesn’t show up on popular media. One way they can differ from suicidal thoughts is that the intrusive thoughts are accompanied by a fear of carrying out self-harm. They can pop into awareness at any time. In addition, these obsessions are often accompanied by other OCD symptoms. People with OCD intrusive thoughts have no history of violence and don’t act on their thoughts or urges. People with nonOCD suicidal thoughts may or may not feel anxious about having these thoughts or may be considering how they can escape what they perceive as overwhelming circumstances. They may have a history of previous suicide attempts. Sometimes OCD intrusive thoughts about self-harm include such images as hitting, stabbing, mutilating themselves or driving their car off a bridge. These thoughts can be very disturbing emotionally.
Understanding that a thought is just a thought can help. The thoughts themselves do not cause anxiety, but the anxiety comes from what the sufferer believes about the thoughts. Discriminating that the strong emotion accompanying the intrusive thought is not an urge helps. Suferers may believe they are horrible to have thoughts like this. They may think they are the only ones who have these thoughts or they may be afraid they will become insane. They usually hesitate to tell anybody about their thoughts for fear of what others may think or do.
We understand OCD and its different forms and can help individuals identify, talk back to, and challenge their obsessive thoughts. If you experience depression and are having thoughts of harming yourself please go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 or (256) 716-1000 to talk about your concerns. If you need to sort out your thoughts, we are a full service private counseling service. Feel free to give us a call. We will be happy to work with you or get you to the help you need.
Maggie Futch, MA
Associate Licensed Counselor