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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5839
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I'm having problems with obsessive thoughts about something

Resolved Question:

I'm having problems with obsessive thoughts about something happening to my chest. It all started with extreme pressure I'm under juggling two jobs. What can I do?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like the stress of handling the two jobs has caused you to feel fearful of a heart attack. Or you may feel so much pressure from the stress of the jobs that you feel the symptoms in your chest. It is not an unusual place to feel stress and is often the place in the body people manifest their stress.

There are a number of things you can do to help yourself.

One, consider seeing your doctor to rule out any potential heart problems- this is an important first step. You always want to rule out any possible physical issues before you focus on any other causes.

Two, you are overly stressed and need a break- this is most likely what you are feeling. Is there anyway you can step back for a while? Maybe take a long weekend or come home early for a few days.

Talk with your psychiatrist- Is your psychiatrist also seeing you for therapy? If not, you may want to consider seeing a Master's level therapist for talk therapy. Medications are great and are needed, but talking out your problems helps enormously as well.

Work on stopping your obsessive thoughts- this is a multi step process that can help you get a handle on your feelings:

1. Once you have been seen by your doctor and any physical problems ruled out, then practice thought stopping. Whenever you think about your chest, tell yourself to stop. Keep repeating it until you feel better.

2. Keep a copy of the good health report with you so you can check it as needed to remind yourself you are ok.

3. Distract yourself and find other ways to occupy your mind. Keep several tasks on hand and complete them whenever you start to think about your chest.

4. Repeat the opposite feeling to yourself. If you feel upset about your chest, say "there is nothing wrong with me. I am in perfect health. The stress will pass and I feel fine". etc. This will help you change your thought processes.

Here are some books that can help you with obsessive thoughts:

The Imp of the Mind: Exploring the Silent Epidemic of Obsessive Bad Thoughts by Lee Baer

Getting Control by Lee Baer

The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) by ***** *****, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I'm sorry, I didn't explain it well enough. I think about getting stabbed in my chest, or a finger getting stuck in my chest, or any other kind of damage being done to it. Not afraid of anyone doing it, but I just think about the gross things that can happen to my chest.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Ok. Thank you for the additional information. It helps.

Then it does sound like an obsessive thought process. You can still use some of the techniques I recommended. Here are some additional ones to help you:

Try to think about the thoughts as normal. They are not going to harm you. They are annoying, but there is nothing going to hurt you.

Realize that the thoughts are just part of your diagnosis and nothing more. Do not assign any value to them.

Do try focusing on something else. This will help distract you.

Play out the thought in your head. Try to look at it passively. See it as if you are removed from it. This will help you see that nothing happens when you do think about it.

Also try the books I recommended. Reducing your stress around the thoughts will help as well as practicing the techniques to change your thoughts.

Also consider cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). This type of therapy helps you retrain your thought process and learn how to think differently about your symptoms so you feel less stressed and more in control


Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Will the obsessive thoughts stop over time? How long can I expect them to go because my biggest fear is that they will never go away. Have you had experience with people who felt like me and got better?

Thank you for your help

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

I think with treatment, some self help work and medication, the obsessions can go away. I have worked with people who have had obsessive thoughts and although it is not easy to cope with, they did have success when they were able to get the treatment they needed. Sometimes relapse occurs, but you can apply the techniques you have learned and regain your strength again.


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