What is Thought Broadcasting?
Thought broadcasting is a mental condition that makes patients believe whatever they feel can be overheard. They might also conclude that their thoughts can be broadcast on social media through television or the internet. Thought broadcasting is typical in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The experience is so upsetting that they might distance themselves from mediums such as television, radio, or the internet.
People with thought broadcasting will have the delusion that whatever they think in public is being heard. They may be at a coffee shop, thinking something about a man sitting beside them. But they will believe that the man is hearing everything. The person with it will get nervous and leave the coffee shop, embarrassed and frightened, considering that the broadcasting was happening in real life. The problem with patients is that they can go years without being aware of the symptoms. Even family and friends fail to notice the signs.
Causes of Thought Broadcasting
This is a mental condition commonly caused by schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that can change a person’s thought process, behaviour, and feelings. Patients with schizophrenia rarely distinguish between what is real and what isn’t. The symptoms of schizophrenia are either positive or negative. Positive signs could lead to fixed false beliefs and delusions, and negative symptoms lead to the loss of feeling or confusion in taking decisions. People with schizophrenia believe that their thoughts are so loud that they are being carried forward in public.
A person who has bipolar disorder suffers from extreme mood swings. His moods will range from mania to depression. A person with bipolar disorder might also have delusions and think broadcasting could be a part of this delusion.
Symptoms of Thought Broadcasting
The primary symptom of thought broadcasting is the feeling that the person feels that people around him can read his thoughts or innermost feelings. Other symptoms of thought broadcasting that can be frustrating and alarming are:
- People suffering from thought broadcasting are always distressed because they think their thoughts can be overheard. For example, if he makes any comment about a person mentally, he feels that the word was overheard and everybody is judging him. This thought of being heard and considered constantly disturbs him.
- Some people suffering from thought broadcasting might hear their thoughts being spoken aloud while just thinking.
- Some people might start believing that they send telepathic messages to other people through their thoughts. When others do not respond to their telepathic messages, they feel angry, sad, and frustrated.
- The most alarming symptom of thought broadcasting is people start isolating themselves as they constantly fear being overheard. They avoid going to social gatherings or public places.
How to Diagnose Thought Broadcasting?
This is the symptom of an underlying mental condition. Diagnosing people with thought broadcasting is difficult because they do not open up until symptoms become difficult to hide or manage. People suffering from this do not talk about their problems out of fear that they might be ridiculed or mocked in public.
Thought broadcasting is a symptom of psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and it might have other symptoms like hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, or disorganized thinking. Therefore, to diagnose it has to be tested if the patient already has a mental disorder.
Treatment of Thought Broadcasting
It is treated by combining medicines and psychotherapy, considered the most effective by doctors.
Thought broadcasting is mainly treated with antipsychotic medicines because it is primarily a symptom of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Doctors prescribe psychotic drugs like Abilify, Clozaril or Haldol. These medicines help treat the mental condition that causes thought broadcasting. They control the severity of it and assist the patient in slowly realize the difference between delusions and reality.
Thought broadcasting can interfere with day to day functioning of a human being if symptoms become severe. The patient might become loud or highly silent and go into a state of self-isolation out of frustration and anger. At this stage, psychotherapy becomes very important. A psychotherapist will study the patient’s symptoms, help them manage stress, and guide them to maintain healthy habits that let them cope with the symptoms of thought broadcasting.
How to Cope with Thought Broadcasting?
Alcohol and substance abuse can potentially increase the severity of the mental condition causing thought broadcasting in a person. Coping with it becomes difficult because the person cannot differentiate between reality and his delusions. He starts believing that people are reacting by reading his thoughts. Alcohol and drugs can alleviate the symptoms. Therefore, to cope with it and delusion, psychotherapists advise maintaining a healthy lifestyle by quitting alcohol and substance abuse.
Another way to manage it is by talking about your symptoms to a loved one you can trust. Most of the time, the patients of this can identify their symptoms and do not open up. Therefore, if you notice anyone showing signs of it, you can talk with them and discuss the need to seek medical help.
A severe drawback of thought broadcasting is social isolation. Therefore, you should reach out to such people and assure them they need not be alone. Timely intervention and psychotherapy can help patients return to normalcy.
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