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What Causes Racing Thoughts?

how to overcome racing thoughtsIntroduction

According to calm clinic, “Anxiety changes the way you think. Sometimes it can make you think more negatively. Sometimes it can make you obsess over things you shouldn’t obsess over. And sometimes, anxiety can cause you to have racing thoughts that you cannot seem to control.” With that said, anxiety is one cause of racing thoughts. However, this article will describe additional causes of racing thoughts.

Panic Attacks

In addition to anxiety, another cause of racing thoughts is panic attacks. According to calm clinic, “During a panic attack, it can be nearly impossible to shut off the mind. Racing thoughts are often about health, symptoms, experiences, and worries over the future.” Therefore, to explain, during a panic attack, the mind is constantly wandering, due to thoughts about health symptoms, experiences, and worries over the future.

Lack Of Sleep

In addition to anxiety and panic attacks, another cause of racing thoughts is lack of sleep. According to calm clinic, ” A related issue is that a lack of sleep can lead to racing thoughts, because your brain often struggles to focus when you’re sleep deprived.” With that said, when you are sleep deprived your brain over-focuses to remain calm, which can lead to racing thoughts.

Unwanted Thoughts From Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

In addition to anxiety, panic attacks, and lack of sleep, another cause of racing thoughts is due to unwanted thoughts from obsessive compulsive disorder. According to calm clinic, “Those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) may also have unwanted thoughts that appear like racing thoughts. These are when the mind is so distracted by the unwanted thoughts (obsessions) that it can’t seem to focus on other things, and the mind races as a result.” Therefore, on an even further note, unwanted thoughts due to obsessions can lead to racing thoughts.


Many different causes of racing thoughts in Bipolar Disorder have been mentioned in this article, in addition to anxiety as a cause for racing thoughts. They include panic attacks, lack of sleep, and unwanted thoughts from obsessive compulsive disorder. If you are experiencing panic attacks, lack of sleep, and unwanted thoughts from obsessive compulsive disorder and believe you are experiencing racing thoughts, consult with your psychiatrist. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate yourself. Seek the judgment of a professional before you take any further steps toward your treatment associated with racing thoughts due to Bipolar Disorder. Be smart, and make the right decision in regard to your mental health.


What Causes Racing Thoughts?

Lauren Walters

My name is Lauren Walters. I am currently heading into my final semester of graduate school for Mental Health Counseling in the Spring of 2016. Through my own experiences with mental illness, I love to inspire others through my writings and reassure them that they can live healthy, productive lives, despite mental illness. I hope you enjoy my articles. Feel free to comment. I will be sure to respond to you questions and/or comments in a prompt manner. Enjoy!

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APA Reference
Walters, L. (2016). What Causes Racing Thoughts?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 8 Jul 2016
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