Mental tics can be random thoughts that play on loop such as phrases in the mind or random images in the mind.
Types of mental tics:
Coproskepsi: Swear words in the mind.
Echoskepsi: Repeating things in your mind which you have heard.
Paliskepsi: Rethinking your own thoughts.
Mental tics can be different volumes, so you may have a repetitive phrase or song in your mind that is 'louder' than your usual thoughts.
Mental tics can be incredibly distracting and very annoying for the individual who has them.
Intrusive thoughts usually contain distressing content, rather than just being random thoughts. This distressing content can cause high levels of anxiety and may fuel compulsions in OCD.
It is possible to have intrusive thoughts without compulsions. Intrusive thoughts are ego-dystonic, meaning that they are what the person is most against, which is why they can cause such anxiety and discomfort.
Fighting an intrusive thought and trying to make it stop can unfortunately make it stronger, but it is really difficult at times not to fight them as we may be terrified that by thinking these things - they could come true, even though we know it sounds irrational.
Intrusive thoughts can be visions or phrases in the mind, or fears and worries which fill someone's mind. They can steal your inner voice to make it feel like you are thinking horrible things, or it can be as if the thought itself is talking to you, but you know it is not real.
Intrusive Thoughts vs Mental Tics:
Intrusive thoughts cause distress due to the content and the fear and anxiety associated can be severe.
Mental tics can cause discomfort if someone is not aware they are mental tics and is confused as to why they cannot control their thoughts, but the content itself doesn't usually cause distress.
Managing Intrusive thoughts and Mental tics:
Now I am not a psychologist or any sort of specialist, and I don't know what it is like to be in anyone else's mind, but I can give some tips on coping with these symptoms based on my own personal experience.
- For mental tics, I found it helpful to listen to music as it would interrupt the involuntary thoughts.
- For mental tics and intrusive thoughts I also found it helpful to keep myself busy so that I had less time to dwell on the thoughts. If my mind was occupied with something else the mental tics would happen less and I would pay less attention to the intrusive thoughts.
- I found that being in nature would temporarily stop my intrusive thoughts. I believe it was because it was a very calming place where I felt completely safe and at ease, so it made things a lot easier to deal with.
- Knowing that intrusive thoughts are simply thoughts and do not indicate that something is going to happen was really helpful for me. I had to empower myself to think this way, as before I was convinced that they would come true, which would lead to intense anxiety.