Every mental health disorder can affect how a person thinks. But some mental illnesses are categorized in a way that specifically emphasizes their impact on thought processes. These conditions are called thinking disorders. They may also be referred to as thought disorders.
So what exactly is a thinking disorder? What makes a thinking disorder different from other forms of mental illness? To get the answers to these questions, it can be helpful to consider these disorders from several perspectives.
What Is a Thinking Disorder?
The category of thinking disorders doesn’t appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is the standard reference for mental health professionals in the United States.
However, this doesn’t mean that thinking disorders don’t exist, or that they are not legitimate concerns. Many mental health challenges are recognized and treated by qualified healthcare providers without being explicitly defined in the DSM-5.
According to a 2017 article in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin, the term “thought disorder” began to be used by mental health experts in the 1980s. The authors of the 2017 article describe a thought disorder as “any disturbance that affects the form of thinking, including the organization, control, processing, or expression of thoughts.”
In other words, one acceptable answer to the question, “What is a thinking disorder?” is that it is any condition that negatively impacts a person’s ability to think clearly, organize their thoughts, and effectively express themselves.
Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are the mental health conditions that are most commonly categorized as thinking disorders.
Signs & Symptoms of Thinking Disorders
People who develop thinking disorders may find it extremely difficult or impossible to accurately perceive their environment and successfully communicate with others.
The following signs and symptoms may indicate that a person has a thinking disorder:
- Hallucinations, or seeing and hearing things that aren’t really there
- Being unable to follow logical thought processes or engage in conversation
- Delusions, or believing things that clearly have no basis in reality
- Inability to speak with understandable words and fundamental syntax
- Repeating words or phrases that are spoken by someone else
- Using self-created words that have no clear meaning
- Speaking extremely rapidly and providing no opportunities for others to respond
- Speaking in a flat tone with little to no inflection in their voice
- Answering questions with statements that have little or no relation to the original query
- Rocking back and forth, pacing, wringing their hands, and similar actions
The symptoms of thinking disorders can make it virtually impossible for a person to make academic progress, get and keep a job, and live independently.
How Are Thinking Disorders Treated?
Thinking disorders are typically treated with a combination of medication and therapy.
If a person receives medication to help with a thinking disorder, they will typically be prescribed an antipsychotic. This type of prescription medication may be able to reduce or eliminate hallucinations and delusions.
If a person has schizoaffective disorder, they may also receive an antidepressant or a mood stabilizer. In addition to having symptoms of thinking disorders, people who have schizoaffective disorder may also have major depressive or manic episodes, which is why these additional medications may be beneficial.
Several forms of therapy can help people learn to manage the symptoms of thinking disorders. Examples of effective therapies for thinking disorders include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and reality therapy.
People who receive treatment for thinking disorders may participate in both individual and group therapy sessions. Depending on their specific circumstances, family therapy may also be included in their treatment plan.
Benefits of Receiving Treatment for a Thinking Disorder
If someone that you care about has been exhibiting symptoms of a thinking disorder, you may be quite concerned about their health and safety. Thinking disorders can be sources of considerable distress, both to the people who develop them and to their friends and family members.
But the news about thinking disorders isn’t all bad. These are treatable conditions. If your loved one gets proper professional care, their quality of life can improve significantly.
Here are a few of the many benefits of receiving treatment for a thinking disorder at Peachtree Wellness Solutions in Atlanta, Georgia:
- Safety: When your loved one is at our center, they will be in a safe place under the care and supervision of a team of dedicated professionals.
- Compassion: Sadly, people who have thinking disorders are often subjected to bullying, mockery, and ridicule. At our center, your loved one will always be treated in a nurturing and compassionate manner. We will help them understand that they are worthy of respect.
- Comprehensive services: Treatment options at our center include residential mental health treatment, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), and outpatient services. We can provide your loved one with the programming that aligns most closely with their needs and abilities.
- Multiple therapies: Your loved one’s customized treatment plan may include several therapeutic activities and related services. Our holistic approach to treatment incorporates an array of time-tested methods and emerging, evidence-based techniques.
Before your loved one transitions out of our care, we will develop a personalized aftercare plan just for them. This plan may include recommendations for follow-on services as well as information about community-based resources that can provide ongoing support.
Find Mental Health Treatment in Atlanta
Peachtree Wellness Solutions offers comprehensive, compassionate care for adults in the Atlanta, Georgia, area whose lives have been disrupted by the symptoms of a thinking disorder. If someone in your life has been struggling with these types of symptoms, please know that help is available. Contact us today and learn more about our admissions process.