Thought Disorders: Symptoms & Treatment | Banyan Mental Health
woman during cognitive behavioral therapy
The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
April 10, 2018
man fading into background
Treating Co-Occurring Disorders
April 13, 2018

What Are Thought Disorders and Can They Be Treated?

woman with hands on head

What Are Thought Disorders?

What are thought disorders? Like many other mental illnesses, the public may have heard of these disorders but know little about them. This lack of understanding has contributed to exaggerations, misconceptions, and stigma surrounding these conditions. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for thought disorders is crucial for anyone with one or more of these diagnoses, but also for their loved ones.

What Is a Thought Disorder?

Also referred to as thinking disorders or thought disturbances, thought disorders refer to a group of mental health conditions that affect the way individuals think, communicate, and express themselves. A thought disorder can significantly impact a person’s daily life, relationships, and overall well-being.

They occur when patterns of thinking or perception are altered or distorted, resulting in disorganized or unclear speech. This disconnect causes the individual to perceive reality incorrectly. Additionally, while thought disorders can occur as a primary condition, they can also be a symptom of an underlying mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression.

The exact causes of thought disorders are not fully understood, but research does suggest that genetics, brain chemistry, and environmental factors can contribute to symptoms. These disorders can range in severity from mild to severe and can significantly impact the individual’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, it’s important for those showing any signs of thought disorder to seek out professional mental health treatment.

Common Thought Disorder Symptoms

Individuals with thought disorders typically experience disruption in their thought patterns, which can affect their concentration, memory, and problem-solving skills. They may also struggle with communicating their ideas effectively, which can make it difficult for others to understand them.

Thought disorder symptoms may also vary depending on the specific conditions and the severity of the illness. For instance, an individual with bipolar disorder experiencing thought disorder may exhibit different symptoms from someone with schizophrenia.

If you suspect this condition in yourself or a loved one, here are common signs of a thought disorder to look out for: 

  • Disorganized speech: Also referred to as derailment of speech, it can manifest as incoherent or tangential speech. It is when the speaker jumps from one topic to another without any logical connection.
  • Echolalia: This is when a person repeats back words or phrases they’ve heard, even when they don’t understand their meaning.
  • Flight of ideas: This is characterized by rapid and continuous shifts in thought subjects, which can make it difficult for others to follow the person’s train of thought.
  • Loose associations: This is when the speaker makes connections between ideas or concepts that have no logical connection.
  • Neologisms: These are newly created words or phrases with no known meaning or connection to the existing language.
  • Perseveration: This is when a person repeatedly circles back to the same idea, word, or phrase, even when it’s not relevant to the conversation.
  • Thought blocking: This is when a person is unable to continue with their previous line of thinking after it’s been interrupted.

Other common characteristics of a thought disorder can include:

  • Auditory, tactile, or visual hallucinations
  • Detachment from social situations
  • Distress
  • Mental health problems like depression
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech with no pauses (pressure of speech)
  • Repetition of ideas or words, similar to preservation
  • Rocking movements or frequent twitches
  • Speech that makes no sense at all (word salad)
  • Substance abuse
  • Unusual energy levels

It's important to note that experiencing a thought disorder doesn’t necessarily mean a person has a mental illness. Many people experience disruptions in their thought patterns at some point in their lives. However, when these disruptions become persistent or severe enough to disrupt the person’s ability to function daily, they may be struggling with a thought disorder that requires professional attention.

Our Banyan facilities for mental health offer mental health diagnosis services along with disorder-specific treatment. We offer various levels of care, such as our mental health PHP, to help people struggling with conditions like thought disorders learn how to cope with their symptoms in rehab and in their daily lives.

Thought Disorder Treatment at Banyan

Although patients may experience some intense and disturbing symptoms, thought disorders can be treated. Medications, therapy, and other therapeutic approaches may help. Our residential mental health treatment is a form of care in which patients live at our facility, where they receive 24-hour care and support as they learn how to cope with their symptoms.

We also employ a multitude of techniques for treating thought disorders, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Reality Therapy
  • Solution Focused Therapy

Our licensed therapists combine the best fit of therapeutic approaches for everyone to aid in recovery.

Thinking disorders are often challenging to overcome, but our team of experts offers approaches to help address and overcome these challenges.

For more information about our thought disorder treatment or other kinds of adult mental health services, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 or send us your contact information, and we’ll reach out to you as soon as possible.

Related Reading:

Is Anxiety a Chemical Imbalance?

How to Stop Trauma Dumping

Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

Comments are closed.