Home » Blogs » Coping with Depression » What Causes Racing Thoughts?

What Causes Racing Thoughts?


What causes racing thoughts?  This article will answer this particular question.  According to, “Each person sees “racing thoughts” differently. One person may not notice a problem, and may simply be distracted by the wonders of life. Others may experience profound stress at their inability to hold a thought.”  In this article, the causes of racing thoughts are caused by panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder.

Panic Attacks

What is a panic attack?  One cause of racing thoughts is a panic attack.  According to, “A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear. Your heart pounds and you can’t breathe. You may even feel like you’re dying or going crazy.”  You may ask how does a panic attack cause racing thoughts.  According to, “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. Anxiety attacks can also cause lightheadedness, which may make it harder to focus. Anxiety attacks commonly lead to racing thoughts.”  Therefore, to explain further, the mind is spinning and racing thoughts are out of control.  Panic attacks contribute to racing thoughts.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

In addition to panic attacks, another cause of racing thoughts is generalized anxiety disorder.  According to, “For reasons that are not entirely clear, stress can cause racing thoughts to occur – especially at night – and daily stress is common with GAD. What’s interesting is that the thoughts may not be negative. Some people may simply have songs stuck in their head while they think about dozens of other things, yet these things may not be related to the stress or anxiety. These thoughts may make it very hard to sleep.”  Therefore, the daily stress of life in general can lead to racing thoughts.


To end this particular article, the causes of racing thoughts have been mentioned.  In particular, according to this article, the causes of racing thoughts include panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder.  In relation to panic attacks, the mind can be spinning so fast and out of control, which can lead to racing thoughts.  In addition, in relation to generalized anxiety disorder, stress is common with generalized anxiety disorder.  This stress, particularly the daily stress of life on a daily basis, can lead to symptoms associated with racing thoughts.  Therefore, internal factors such as panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder can lead to racing thoughts.

Photo by Patrick Hoesly

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!

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Walters, L. (2016). What Causes Racing Thoughts?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Oct 2016
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.