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How do I stop my suspicious mind?

answered 04:17 PM EST, Sat January 07, 2012
I keep having a problem with having these really negative and angry thoughts popping up in my head. Like I’ll imagine my husband I’ll get this thought in my head that my husband is having an affair and then that thought will just keep percolating in my brain for hours or days – even though I know he isn’t. And then even though I know he isn’t I’ll be looking for evidence all the time to prove that he isn’t – but the more evidence I find that he isn’t the more I want to find even more reassurance that he isn’t. It’s like the only thing I can think of to make these thoughts go away just feeds them or something. I feel like I am going crazy. Why do I think like this and what can I do to make it stop? I get these invading thoughts a few times a week.

Art Matthews Says...

Of course I don't have enough information to diagnose what's happening with you and in this context, these suggestions may or may not be helpful. To accurately diagnose what's happening and to find effective interventions, I'd suggest you invest in a few professional evaluations. That being said...

It sounds from what you are saying that your husband has not done anything to cause you not to trust him. If I'm correct in that assumption and these anger/suspicious thoughts are new for you, then I would suggest meeting with your doctor to have a complete physical with blood work to rule out whether or not there may be a physiological explanation for your change in perception, cognition and behavior. Things like changes in hormone levels (like thyroid hormones) can cause us to change how we think and behave. As a nurse who has worked on a psychiatric unit, I have seen people with hyperactive thyroid glands present with paranoia, emotional outbursts, and even psychotic symptoms. Other physiological conditions like high or low blood sugar can also impact moods, cognition and behavior.

From a psychological standpoint, the kinds of symptoms you describe could be attributed to several causes: Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an Anxiety Disorder, Personality Disorder or even a Psychotic Disorder. Or you may be highly perceptive and your husband is lying to throw you off his track; however, it could be as simple as having low self-worth. If you do not value yourself highly enough, you could be convinced that it's just a matter of time until he leaves you. The rational part of our mind says, "It's better to be prepared." and so you do by trying to catch him so you can prevent yourself from feeling hurt and get on with the business of moving on when it happens. Right now you are caught in an argument between your emotional mind and your rational mind. And neither is coming out as a clear victor.

I would definitely recommend at least a consultation with a therapist or psychologist to determine what is at the root of this change in your cognition and behavior. Until you know what is causing this, any speculation as to how to stop it could be futile. Types of therapeutic models that may be best for this situation (barring any organic disorders that require medication) would be Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

My final recommendation is to first see your primary care physician for a complete evaluation and bloodwork (tell your doctor what led you to get an exam) and second to make an appointment with a mental health practitioner. You will have to decide if it is best to tell your husband about this or not. By telling him, you give him an opportunity to support you and help you to recover. Weigh the decision to tell him carefully based on what you know about his personality, compassion and understanding.

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Page last updated Jan 07, 2012

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