What is Thought Broadcasting?
Thought broadcasting is a mental condition that makes the patient believe that whatever they are thinking in their mind can be overheard. They might also conclude that their thoughts can be broadcast on social media through television or the internet. Thought broadcasting is common in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The experience is so upsetting that they might even distance themselves from mediums such as television, radio, or the internet.
People with thought broadcasting will have the delusion that whatever they are thinking in public, is being heard. They may be at a coffee shop and might be thinking something about a man sitting right beside them. But they will think that the man is hearing everything. The person with thought broadcasting will get nervous and move out of the coffee shop embarrassed and frightened believing all the while that the thought broadcasting was happening in real life. The problem with patients of thought broadcasting is that they can go years without being aware of the symptoms. Even family and friends fail to notice the symptoms.
Causes of Thought Broadcasting
Thought broadcasting is a mental condition that is commonly caused by schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that can change a person’s thought process, behavior, and feelings. Patients with schizophrenia can rarely distinguish between what is real and what isn’t. The symptoms of schizophrenia are either positive or negative. Positive symptoms could lead to fixed false beliefs and delusions. 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 suffering from bipolar disorder suffers from extreme mood swings. His moods will range from mania to depression. A person with bipolar disorder might also have delusions. Thought broadcasting can be a part of this delusion.
Symptoms of Thought Broadcasting
The primary symptom of thought broadcasting is the feeling that the person feels that his thoughts or innermost feelings can be read by people around. Other symptoms of thought broadcasting that can be frustrating and alarming are:
- People suffering from thought broadcasting are always distressed because they think that their thoughts can be overheard. For example, if he makes any comment about a person mentally, he thinks that the comment was overheard and everybody was judging him. This thought of being heard and judged constantly disturbs him.
- Some people suffering from thought broadcasting might hear their thoughts being spoken aloud when in reality they are just thinking.
- Some people might start believing that they send telepathic messages to other people through their thoughts. When other people 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 are in the constant fear of being overheard. They avoid going to social gatherings or public places.
How to Diagnose Thought Broadcasting?
Thought broadcasting is the symptoms of an underlying mental condition. It is difficult to diagnose people with thought broadcasting because they do not open up until symptoms become difficult to hide or manage. People suffering from thought broadcasting do not talk about their problems out of the fear that they might be ridiculed or mocked in public.
Thought broadcasting is a symptom of some psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Thought broadcasting might have other symptoms like hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, or disorganized thinking. Therefore, to diagnose thought broadcasting, it has to be tested if the patient is already suffering from a mental disorder.
Treatment of Thought Broadcasting
Thought broadcasting is treated by combining medicines and psychotherapy. This combination is considered most effective by doctors.
Thought broadcasting is mainly treated with antipsychotic medicines because thought broadcasting is mostly the symptom of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Psychotic medicines like Abilify, Clozaril or Haldol are prescribed by doctors. These medicines help treat the mental condition that causes thought broadcasting. They work by controlling the severity of thought broadcasting and helping the patient 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 extremely silent. The patient might also go into a state of self-isolation out of frustration and anger. At this stage, psychotherapy becomes very important. A psychotherapist will study the symptoms of the patients, help the patients to manage stress, and also guide them to maintain healthy habits that would 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 that is causing thought broadcasting in a person. Coping with thought broadcasting 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 thought broadcasting and delusion, psychotherapists advise maintaining a healthy lifestyle by quitting alcohol consumption and substance abuse.
Another way to manage thought broadcasting is by talking about your symptoms to a loved one whom you can trust. Most of the time, the patients of thought broadcasting can identify their symptoms and do not open up. Therefore, if you notice anyone showing symptoms of thought broadcasting, you can talk with them and discuss the need to seek medical help.
A serious drawback of thought broadcasting is social isolation. Therefore, you should reach out to such people and assure them that they need not be alone. Timely intervention and psychotherapy can help patients with thought broadcasting return to normalcy.
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