Causes of Racing Thoughts and How to Stop Them

Racing thoughts often come in succession, one after the other and are often related to a variety of thoughts. Racing thoughts often dig up random thoughts in the mind of a person and this happens as reflexes, unplanned and unprecedented. In this article is about the causes of racing thoughts and how to stop them.

Causes of Racing Thoughts

Racing thoughts often come with topics that are unrelated to one another or related in some way. Unwanted thoughts can make it difficult to concentrate or get enough sleep.

A worst-case situation could result from a chain of racing thoughts. They could be seen by a person as a voice they can’t ignore or as mental background noise.

These thoughts might be relieved by receiving treatment for an underlying medical condition or by learning basic coping mechanisms.

Causes of Racing Thoughts

Thoughts that are racing can have several causes. Bipolar disorder may cause racing thoughts, especially while in a manic episode.

However, a 2019 paper claims that a number of additional causes can cause racing thoughts. These consist of:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • panic disorders
  • chronic stress
  • the use of recreational drugs, such as amphetamine or cocaine
  • some prescription drugs, such as dexamethasone
  • medical conditions, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Cushing’s disease
  • a traumatic brain injury

One older research According to a reliable source, those who suffer racing thoughts due to depression may be more likely to consider suicide.

Racing thoughts may also be an indication of the beginning of psychosis, according to Mental Health America.

6 Ways to Stop Racing Thoughts

There are a variety of ways to control racing thoughts and reduce their occurrence.

  1. Forget About the Past, Focus on Now

For some people, racing thoughts stem from something that has not happened and may never happen. Others focus on things that happened in the past, which they cannot change.

Racing thoughts often come from things that haven’t occurred yet and may never happen for some people while some are often about things that happened in the past. If you want to deal with racing thoughts, learn to live in the present and focus on things you can control.


  1. Take Deep Breaths

One way the body reacts to panic is by speeding up the heart rate and breathing pace and this often happens when the mind begins to race.

Taking slow, deep breaths can reduce the body’s stress response and promote a feeling of calm, helping to quiet or stop racing thoughts.

The following strategy might help. Try to:

  • breath slowly and count  to five
  • hold your breath for a few seconds
  • breath out and count to five

Note that you can practice deep breathing anytime, without any specialized training.

  1. Think About Positive Things

Racing thoughts typically end up in a worst-case scenario, and it can be simple for someone to build up a sense of dread.

This can lead to a vicious cycle of increasing worry and continual racing thoughts.

A person can try to counter this by:

  • repeating telling themselves that this worst-case situation is not going to happen
  • considering how likely it is that the worst case will happen
  • thinking about more desirable alternatives that could occur

Instead of, “I’ll get fired for that mistake,” change your mindset by saying, “Everyone makes errors, and I’ll do what I can to make it right.”

Use Mantras

mantras, or positive self-statements, are simple words or phrases that a person can repeat to calm their mind. Some people find them useful in times of panic and racing thoughts.

Mantra is affirmative words that you can say to yourself to build your confidence and keep your thoughts stable especially when you are panicking.

Phrases like, “I can do this “,” I will sail through, and “ It will be okay,” can help you a lot.

Mantras allow the mind to focus on one simple positive or encouraging thought. This turns the mind away from its racing thoughts.


  1. Try Distractions

Try to get distracted by a favorite hobby, especially a calming one that can quiet the mind and help you focus on something other than racing thoughts.

Depending on individual differences, options for reducing stress and finding distraction may include:

  • using coloring books
  • painting
  • gardening
  • cooking
  • singing or playing an instrument
  • going for a walk or other outdoor activity
  • watch a movie or listen to some music
  1. Exercise

Regular physical activity improves mental well-being and might be helpful during an episode of racing thoughts.

One 2016 study found that exercise improved symptoms of depression, while another found that just 15 minutes of exercise improved mood in college students.

If racing thoughts start developing, walking, jogging, or similar activities may help settle the mind.

A person may experience racing thoughts in response to a traumatic event, but they can also indicate an underlying health condition.

Many of the conditions that cause racing thoughts require professional guidance from a doctor or mental health practitioner for ongoing management.

A person should see a doctor if they experience racing thoughts without an apparent reason or have any other symptoms that last longer than 2 weeks.

These symptoms may indicate an underlying mental health problem that needs medical attention.

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