What is Thought Disorder?

Thought disorder is a severe mental health condition affecting an individual's thoughts, beliefs, and self-confidence. It concerns the way a person thinks as they are not able to order or sequence any situations around them. As a result, the patient may experience delusions or hallucinations, and other relating symptoms.

Thought disorder also affects a person's way of thinking and behavior adversely. They will face problems while speaking, sometimes it will be illogical, and most of the time, it gets problematic because of delusions. Usually a person thinks about three things; it might be about a casual situation, or normal flow of thoughts, or some stringing thoughts. But in the case of thought disorder, the thought process is adversely disrupted.

Many people confuse thought disorder with speech disorder; but it is totally different. The major cause of thought disorder is disordered thinking leading to disorganized speech. Here are symptoms to help you differentiate better.

Symptoms of thought disorder:

  • Increased energy leading to restlessness
  • Confusing speech or thought
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Lack of facial expressions and emotions
  • Social anxiety
  • Hallucinations or delusions


There are different types of thought disorders and are differentiated according to the symptoms a person may perceive. Some of the common types are:

  • Alogia: It's also called poverty of speech wherein the person doesn't speak a bit until prompted by anyone else. They sometimes give unelaborated answers to the questions asked.
  • Circumstantial speech: When a person is unable to answer a question and tends to give unnecessary and excessive detail, then they are thinking circumstantially. The patient often elaborates a lot about little things.
  • Blocking: In this condition, the patient has destructive thoughts and may end up doing something that can cause physical problems like standing in the middle of the busy road, without any explanation.
  • Derailment: The patient loses association while talking on a specific topic, which is totally unrelated to the subject. Like, they might be talking about their day at school, and instantly they switch to a problem that happened in the past.
  • Clanging thought disorder: This is a severe condition commonly seen in a person facing bipolar disorder. There is a sudden flight of ideas having similar or rhyming sounds that are totally dysregulated.
  • Distractible speech: The patient often gets distracted while speaking, and the subject is changed. This usually happens due to the response to stimuli.
  • Echolalia: In simpler words, try to echo someone else's speech in continuation. For example, repeating a phrase most often from a statement, like, that's good, good, good,,.

According to John Hopkins Psychiatry Disorder, there are 20 types of thought disorders, like, Stilted speech, neologism, paraphrastic error, perseveration, loss of goal, etc. Some people also speak with a random collection of words because they aren't able to process their thoughts; thus, the words get fumbled.


Thought disorder, also called a thinking disorder, can be treated with the help of therapy, medication, and several therapeutic approaches. Some types of thought disorders are a bit destructive but others may require considerable attention during treatment. There are certain risk factors associated with medication, as it can sometimes cause autoimmune disease.

Therapists often use a combination of different therapies to treat thought disorders. The most common treatments include CBT, REBT, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

Solution-based therapy is also beneficial for treating thought disorders, as the therapist uses a multitude of techniques to recognize the core problems.

Counseling outcomes for Thought Disorder:

There are lots of benefits of therapies for thought disorder, and the major of all is the improved quality of life one can withstand after each session. It's often seen that the symptoms of thought disorder are some way similar to bipolar disorder and psychotic issues. Here are some counseling benefits for thought disorder:

  • Improved communication: Mindfulness-based therapy and Problem-focused therapy focuses on decreasing depression by promoting good mental health. Hence, your communication will improve as you won't hesitate about talking about your problems to anyone.
  • Develop a realistic thought process: Through the session, you will learn more about your thoughts and moods, which will help you to cut off negative ones. You will also learn to interject positive thoughts to disarm problematic feelings. One can also face potentially overwhelming situations with the tips and techniques followed by therapists.

The thinking disorder is quite challenging to overcome, as there are many underlying problems to be recognized and treated. However, if you or your closed one is going through such a mental condition, you can try these tips to overcome thought disorder efficiently:

  • Focus on the present: Many patients often face thinking disorders as they are stuck in their past situations. People who are experiencing racing thoughts should start by focusing on what you can control.
  • Keep exercising: Keep yourself and your mind busy by exercising every day in the morning or at any appropriate time. It improves cognitive functioning and helps a person overcome their negative thoughts.
  • Write your thoughts: Never try to suppress whatever you are thinking; if you don't feel like talking about it to anyone, then try writing it out in a journal or a notepad.
  • Breathe: Deep breathing is the best technique to calm down intrusive or harmful thoughts. Try breathing in and out when in problematic situations.

If you still find that you are not able to control your racing thoughts, then we suggest you take the help of professionals. You have to be patient and consistent throughout the process as it's not a one-time medication or treatment. Try the combination of both medication and therapy but under a medical health provider's prescription.

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