Bipolar Disorder Thought Types

November 28, 2011 Natasha Tracy

Recently a doctor stopped by my blog and asked about types of thoughts people with bipolar disorder have. Specifically, he was asking about "crowded" thoughts. Crowded thoughts are likened to "too many people jammed into this office." Crowded thoughts constitute the experience of having too many thoughts at one time.

So it got me to thinking, what are the types of thoughts and what types of thoughts are typical for bipolar disorder.

What is a Thought?

A thought is a "product of mental activity," or an idea. OK. So what's a "normal" thought"?

In my mind your average ideas are like someone whispering in your ear. You know, "I like carrots," or, "why does nail polish flake so easily?" or, "I really should do laundry."

They are just random ideas that pop out of nowhere in particular. They may lead to other thoughts about maple-glazed carrots, manicures and Tide, or perhaps not. Either way, no big deal.

Bipolar Disorder Thought

But your average thoughts can be controlled to some extent. You can have the thought, look at it and decide what to do with it. Most thoughts get thrown out as soon as we have them. For example, thinking about carrots on the way to work isn't very helpful so that errant thought gets thrown out with the traffic report on the fives.

Bipolar thoughts are not so much like that. Someone doesn't whisper bipolar thoughts nor are they typically easy to shed. No, bipolar thoughts are like being yelled at.

Loud Thoughts

This brings me to the idea of loud thoughts. Rather than the thought being a whisper it is a yell. It is a thought being screamed at you so loudly that it bounces around on the inside of your cranium. These are thoughts that are impossible to ignore and just come right back if you try to put them away. They aren't necessarily crazy or disturbing thoughts, just ones that are yelled at you louder than you can bear. And loud thoughts tend to be repetitive.

(This is similar to the concept of intrusive thoughts, a technical term, but intrusive thoughts are involuntary and unpleasant.)

(Neither "loud" nor "crowded" thoughts are technical terms, just useful ones.)

Racing Thoughts in Mania or Hypomania

Racing thoughts, as they sound, are fast thoughts. So fast, in fact, you can't keep up with them. Before one thought is done another appears. And they often have no relation to each other except in a crazy world of rapid thoughts were logical leaps are flying ones from one pinpoint to another in vastly different spaces. Often the mouth is a slave to the speed of the thoughts and others tend to have no idea what you're talking about.

Racing thoughts are, of course, standard to bipolar mania or hypomania and a fairly common experience for people with bipolar. Racing thoughts are not, de facto, disturbing and might even be creative or useful.

(And none of this speaks to delusional thoughts which are a whole other beastie.)

Thought About Thought

All these thoughts made me realize, some of the thought types I have always had, like loud thoughts, are probably just the product of bipolar disorder. I've always wondered why sometimes one exchange of words can beat at the back of my brain with great insistence, noise and repetition. And it's probably just the crazy acting up. I find it causes extreme anxiety when there's a thought that refuses to quiet itself and it's somehow relieving to know it isn't just me; it's really just the bipolar.

And crowded thoughts themselves are an interesting notion and something I've experienced many times. "Get all of these people out of my office," is just about right.

Have you had interesting thought patterns that are perhaps related to a mental disorder?

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, November 28). Bipolar Disorder Thought Types, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

October, 24 2016 at 5:12 am

Does anyone else feel like they continually take a step forward and fall backwards two steps? Some days I feel like I'm on top of the world, and the next day I feel like a strange serial killer who hates everyone around me. I have read so many articles, posts and studies on depression, mood disorders, bipolar, etc recently. This morning, one of those Top 10 lists of 'How to be Happy' popped in my head. The phrase, "Do things that make you happy" is the one that I cannot seem to answer most of the time. I feel like society is one big "Please everyone else but yourself" scenario. The minute I stop conforming to societal rules and acting all sweet and genuinely kind to all others is when others treat me like an asshole. When I am taking care of myself and truly in a happy mood, others seem to vacuum the happy energy from me within minutes. My sister calls these people "Energy Vampires", but I think she got the term from me.
It just seems that lately every single person I run into is an energy vampire. Everyone is depressed or angry. I am rarely around people that are smiling and truly happy. This probably explains why I'm always depressed, with minor mood changes to happy that are short-lived. There are several times throughout the weeks that I imagine living alone again for the sake of my sanity.
I am and always have been the sweetest, kindest and most generous guy on the planet. But most recently, people anger me hourly. I'm just curious if others that may or may not think they're bipolar have these varying tendencies of loving people and then later hating them. I'm seriously starting to think that instead of being bipolar, I might be an Empath.
I ordered breakfast today in the cafeteria and watched a troll looking kitchen aid wander around behind the cooks. He truly was hunched over and went about his duties refilling hot food items. The cooks treated him poorly. He appears to be late forties age, maybe just over fifty years old. But, I stood there waiting for my order completely dazed, staring at him and saddened as if I were watching Cinderella as she was being mocked by the mean stepsisters. I could easily sense that this guy has been treated extremely awful his entire life, and the emotions swept through me so much that my stomach started hurting. I felt like crying for this guy just from the look on his face.
This kind of thing happens to me almost daily. I might be in a great mood, and minutes later after observing mean people treat someone awful I begin to almost cry inside. My stomach turns, and I quickly become depressed that we live in such a cold, cruel world.
Does anyone else experience anything similar often?

October, 26 2016 at 6:32 am

I'm curious how many of us are having a difficult time letting go of something whether is be toxic family or someone accepting you for who you truly are?
I recently discovered that I have to let go of my toxic family, and it hasn't been easy. Each day bounces around like a roller coaster for me. One day I'm fine and almost happy, and the next I'm depressed as hell. I'm having somewhat of a mock funeral in my mind daily because I know that the exhausting efforts on my part never return normal healthy behavior on my family's part.
Normally I would love family, but in this case there's not much left to love. Most strangers' families have treated me better. The hardest part is that my mind is non-stop reminding me, "You're alone now. Just you. The rest of them are too toxic. Conditional family love isn't worth fighting for." And, I can't seem to break free from the depression of it all.
I've tried and tried communicating with them, and my feelings are immediately converted into them being victimized. I don't feel that the only solution is accepting that "this is the way life is (with us)." It doesn't matter how bad my situation is or how much I need support, they will always be worse off needing more attention than I. I've realized the only solution is permanently exiting the toxic situation, family or not.
I'm guessing that the "new family" that I make will cure all of this.

Racheal a Bailey
October, 30 2016 at 7:08 am

Hi, my name is Racheal Ann Bailey. I live in Chisago city Minnesota. I am very over board it seems with diagnosises. I'm almost alwYs in a struggle with my mind. I don't know why my meds don't do the trick. But Im always talking in my head to some entity. An almost all times. Then I'll go on and think oh it's all God..god I just want to be in peace. Then I'll go on a rampage talking to god...then someone else talked then there god. And I believe off the wall things. Like..oh never mind...I just want to quit talking all the time in my head. It never ends. I'm suicidal. I take ten pills in the morning and five at night and a shot of invaga sastena once a month. And I'm still. Being drove crazy. Maybe I need shocks. Maybe I am suppose to kill myself. I live in an adult foster home. Maybe I'm suppose to go threw hell to get to the best heaven there is. Wow! I see a doctor psychiatrist who provides me meds. Her name is Beth Good..she works at alot of places. She is a good doctor. I meet her in anoka Minnesota at C.O.R. I'm It. Doesn't meant my life should be take from me. Am i pozest? Do I need an exrosysom? Whatever. I need help. When I'm done with this. My my brain screams again
Some one help me:(

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 17 2017 at 1:04 am

@ Rachael Bailey. I have a pretty thick file with more than a few diagnosis and will leave that as it is. Needless to say, I have been having brain thought issues and googled.
And I landed here.
I don't often comment anymore, but have felt lead to respond to your cry for help.
I realize it has been nearly a year since your post and I surely hope you have received some help, but if not, here is my go at it.
Get a bible, NASB, NIV or NKJV or another. Start reading! The book of John in the New Testament. Also Philippians 4:4-9 ish. Either your meds do not seem to be working, in need of counseling to take better control, and or need a Jesus washing. I will pray you find a good godly pastor counselor with excellent skills in working with folks with mental health issues. I prayed for you. This mental health/illness monster stinks like a family of skunks. And I am sorry you are walking this path. For me, there has been a bit of a silver lining if there ever could be. It has left me more compassionate and real. I hope this helps.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Cameron Farmer
January, 9 2018 at 4:11 am

Rachael you are not alone in what you feel. I too have a entity controlling every thought in my head and it is unbearable. Sometimes it gets better and other times it's like being bombarded with to much information at a time. I too wonder if this entity is god or some type of unknown power but it controls everything we do. Every person in the world is controlled by this entity and I have been shown how it works. It is beyond words and scary. It all started out of the blue and it ends abrubtly like nothing ever happened and it seems the entity allows you to go back to a normal simplistic way of thinking that we are used to. I sound insane when I try to explain this phenomenon to others and they dismiss it as some mental illness but I know it's a fact and after reading your post it just reinforces everything. I am religious and believe in god but it seems this power is something else. It's like one mechanism the entire world works off of. Every person, creature, plant and weather is controlled by it. I know that sounds like gods role but the entity claims to not be. It's some type of universal control and it has control of every thought, microsecond, and action the entire universe takes. I'm interested in hearing back from you. Thanks Racheal

November, 2 2016 at 1:07 pm

I read every word of your questions and thoughts.

November, 2 2016 at 1:14 pm

STEVE- I read every word of your 2 posts Oct 30th. I felt as though I were the one writing that word for word. I need to know how to calm and stop it all. I even signed up for this website just to see if there is any cure. I dont have hope and faith. Those are pretend words to make others feel better and I know the only way to be happy is to only count on myself.

February, 22 2017 at 10:06 am

Hello there, I have the same moods Steve so accurately described and initially I blamed it on me for being unmotivated, cold, lazy and saw the thoughts as motives to push me forward. It's unbelievable how much these thoughts can lower your self-esteem; you can get from being confident to being unsure, to lose your words, to shy away from people, to crawl inside, to try every morning to find a balance, your balance and when you seem to finally have found it to meet the outside overthink, to push that safe feeling back and re-start...every day, feeling either the king of the universe or a tormented soul...going in circle....concentrate on anything else than what seems to matter for the real world...or being finally present and enjoying it for a couple of moments before you get back inside the cozy shell...
I do not open myself easily, but I couldn't believe my eyes reading Steve's's 100% what I experience on a daily thanks for sharing. I do hope that meanwhile you're closer to finding that inner balance..

Lorikay Gabbert
April, 6 2017 at 11:02 pm

Loud thoughts

Lorikay Gabbert
April, 6 2017 at 11:06 pm

Loud thoughts, I could talk and about my crazy but probably just annoying thoughts! You are the first person that's ever said that! I it's like someone screaming at me but it's my voice I hear. I hate being mean to myself but sometimes it's uncontrollably.

Crazy and sick
April, 18 2017 at 5:22 pm

I hurt myself- when I cook my mind Tells me to hurt myself- I always have bad thoughts- I can't tell anyone what's going on in my brain, I am tired of yelling and crying, I isolate myself from friends and family I am so tired of living like this/ sounds drive me crazier people talking a ball bouncing I am so tired of taking pills to sleep

April, 25 2017 at 1:31 pm

Oh my god, I've never heard it explained so accurately. I get thoughts yelled at me all the time, especially when my meds aren't working as well as I need them to or if I accidentally miss one. I also get the repetitive phrases, which sometimes turn into somebody singing something over and over and over. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone.

December, 10 2017 at 2:34 am

Being bipolar and living with my mind everyday is so exhausting. Everyday is a battle for me. Doing simple things like getting sleep or getting up in the morning are huge accomplishments for me. I am prescribed medications but I do not take them properly. I take them sporadically and the times I'm not taking them, im doing awful drugs like meth. I feel so crazy that I have come to the point in seeing no reason to not feel crazy. I feel so hopeless that I see no reason to try and help myself. I feel like my brain will never experience peace, that I deserve this struggle and pain in some way, that I don't deserve to feel even just okay. I cancel on my therapist everytime, I get so lost in my head. I constantly feel confused, almost as if I have no idea what's going on at all around me.. or where I'm even going.. or how I even got to a place I am at. Its all because my head will never calm, it goes on and on and on.. forever. I can't even think straight, I can't even process a thought before I have a billion more unprocessable thoughts. I feel like a clown, like I am a walking joke and it's all my fault that I am. It's all my fault. I feel like a freak and that no one will ever understand me, I can't even understand myself. I feel like I am so many different people and then other times I feel nothing at all. Absolutely nothing.. then I feel like I am feeling every possible thing to feel ever. I feel like I'm feeling so much of everything that I feel nothing. Then I just feel nothing.. then I feel everything. It never ends. I am so tired. I cry all the time because my mind won't stop or calm or be still even for a second and the harder I try to feel calm the angrier I get because I can't feel calm. I drive myself insane trying to feel sane. Imagine being in a room that is endless, no walls.. never ending like space.. thats nothing but the color white. A bright, annoying white that SCREAMS THAT IT'S WHITE! Imagine being stuck in this endless, white room with a piercing, high pitch noise that won't stop and it starts to become so unbearable that you want nothing more than for it to STOP. But it just gets louder and louder , to the point you go crazy to try and make it stop. You begin running and running, to find where its coming from or running in an attempt to escape the noise. Running and running to the point of complete exhaustion, realizing you havent gotten anywhere, realizing there is no going anywhere. Youre stuck, no way free.. with this never ending noise. Suddenly you find yourself curled up in a ball on the floor, covering your ears.. "please stop , please stop, please stop". Eventually giving in, accepting that there is no end to this tourcture, this hell .sooner or later you find yourself laughing hysterically because it's drove you so insane that you've begun to like it. That is how I would describe living with bipolar disorder. God can't even help me.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 21 2018 at 9:52 am

You should be a writer. You pretty much summed up a day in the life of bipolar people. Much better than Ms. Tracy. I can't do anything right either. I'm not gonna give u advice, just remember there are other people feeling the same way. If we give up and end it, there are no more chances .No more chances to meet someone who understands you . No more chances to meet someone hot in the grocery store. I know it's my brain or chemicals and not who I am so I keep trying

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

stevie nicks
March, 25 2018 at 11:09 pm

Sorry, but nobody explains, thinks, or writes about bipolar better than Ms. Tracy. Any bipolar person can explain how they feel, act, think, etc during an episode or a bad morning. Ms. Tracy has won Awards for her writings, for a reason. She's brilliant on expressing herself and explaining a myriad of tandem problems we bipolar people face. I like many other bipolar sufferers, have read, listened to, and heard scads of explanations for the many gifts this illness hands out. Nobody but NO-body has EVER hit on so many freaky and exacting areas of bipolar so staggeringly accurate as Ms. Tracy. One may write a page in their new "horror story" novella but Natasha sorts out 100's of areas (that most deal with), with agonizing, and uber clear detail that no ''writer'' could ever attempt to accomplish, unless they themselves had it too. and even then...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 9 2018 at 8:49 am

I have to say that I can really relate to where you are coming from and you really know how to communicate your experience to others. I think writing about it is a good way to get it out and to learn how to control it instead of it controlling you. Having a good routine, diet, and exercise really do help. I know it's easier said than done when every small task feels monumental and like the end of the world. Finding the right meds will really help but they can't work right until you take them regularly and without drugs in your system. I dont mean marijuana. I mean alcohol and especially meth. Meth is known to cause psychosis to people who have no mental health history, but if you have a diagnosis you honestly could enter a psychotic break that you may never be able to come out of. I am speaking from experience on a personal level and just to say some things that helped me. Everyone has their own prison that they create for themselves and just long for freedom, peace, and quiet... and an ending. When you talk about that white room, boy do I know my own version of that... Just know that's what it is like for you and find a way to laugh about the crazy and start to personalize that space and make it yours. The more you want somethin to go away the more intense it gets and becomes more relentless. Instead of running, face it head on and start learning how to live with your story and issues you face each day. It can be empowering. It takes a lot of practice to make it part of your life instead of it defining you. Finding a good therapist you can trust is such a great help in addition to researching the thinking patterns or how the brain works with bipolar or adhd, any mental health diagnosis so you can better understand and know you aren't alone and there is hope. It sucks to wake up feeling defeated and knowing you have to wake up to your own hell. It's your life and you deserve to find happiness and not just feel nothing or infinite despair. Hang in there and keep writing. Keep yourself busy and read about others experiences and take anything you find useful. I started writing my own book with info, quotes, web sites, med journal, and log feelings,triggers,dreams.... give meds and therapy a try... I mean it's worth a try to make things improve. If I may recommend the biggest thing to help you would be to stay away from meth forever.... that will make things so much worse. I have a friend who lives in permanent psychosis now from that junk and can't come back to reality and lives in permanent terror. Thanks for sharing your story.

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