What Is Thought Disorder? Overview, Risk Factors, Treatments, & Other Considerations

With the plethora of disorders listed in the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 for short), it can feel difficult to breakdown each disorder listed both as a patient or practicing counselor.

In this post, we want to do an overview of what Thought Disorder is, risk factors, treatment methods, & other pertinent information to consider.

Thought disorders are important to discuss because it can present an assortment of cognitive, linguistic, & affective challenges to our daily living & social well-being.

We did an entire podcast episode about Thought Disorders, listen to us on Spotify for an audio discussion of the disorder, or read on for a visual text overview.

Thought disorder is commonly known as a disturbance in brain regions that affects thought processes, language, & general communication. Thinking becomes more disorganized affecting judgement, patterns of behavior, & ability to communicate to others.

According to Aimee Eyvazzadeh of, this disorder is also comorbid with mood disorders, bipolar disorders, depression, traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, & anxiety. There's also a strong correlation that thoughts disorders related & even derivative of schizophrenia.

There are many instances when we as people have a hard time organizing thoughts together.

This is especially true during stress events in life like managing a family, big financial decisions, grief, reduction in quality of life, etc. Moments in life can have us thinking with a lack of clarity & not make the best decisions as a result.

However, once thought disorders are having a more adverse effect to one's quality of life it can becomes a clinical issue to address.

Depending on behavior that is on-going with a person, there can be 20+ types of thought disorders to be occurring.

Here are a few examples below:

  • Circumstantial Speech- answering a question with excessive detail

  • Distractible Speech- trouble maintaining a topic

  • Incoherence- inability to talk clearly

  • Paraphasic Error- mispronunciation of a word

  • Blocking- interrupting oneself mid-sentence

The examples listed are common behavior patterns of thought disorders & are to be taken into consideration with the frequency of behavior & impact to quality of life.

These behaviors can happen to anyone, but is insufficient to self-diagnose without the guidance of a trained professional.

Some risk factors include: frequent exposure to stress, mind-altering drugs, traumatic experiences, & autoimmune diseases.

Assessment measures are limited to a Rorschach Inkblot Test to observe responses to slides of images. Responses are interpreted to see if there are links to disordered thinking.

Current viable treatment options are considered to be medications & psychotherapy. Antipsychotic medication could address chemical imbalances that are on-going while therapies like CBT can tackle the challenges of disordered thinking overhauling one's brain capacity.

However, other holistic measures could include relaxation techniques & dietary choices. We made blog posts for focused breathing & meditation practices that would be useful to have a more calm mind. Changing up food choices might be ideal for addressing nutritional needs that can affect brain function such as adding more omega-3, vitamin E, & antioxidants.


Thought disorders are an interesting discussion point for mental health because it can be experienced on occasion for some or more clinically for others. This prompts for more targeted study on brain regions more closely related to cognition, auditory, communication. Exploring the neuroscience can provide a better picture on how brain physiology can be leveraged for better treating thought disorders.

Frontiers In Psychiatry contributors Rose Jeppesen and Michael Eriksen Benros have found that autoimmune disorders & psychosis are closely related. With epidemiological studies pointing to environmental & genetic factors involving mental illnesses, leads to further investigation to treating autoimmune disorders that affect the human psyche.

One of the issues with thought disorders as a means of further study is the potential of misdiagnoses when a symptom is recorded & behavioral data inaccurately becomes a part of the assessment. It's imperative to understand one's history of mental health disorders, & vulnerability to stressors to better understand treating a person's symptoms.

Comorbidities with thought disorders although are common, are complex to breakdown & treat effectively.

No one is perfect, disorganized thinking can happen to anyone with or without a history of mental disorders. Incoherent thoughts may implicate a wider problem & be better managed when we slow our mind as well as our speech to communicate effectively with others.

Striving to be aware of others thinking processes as well as our own is important for helping to advance communication & understanding of others forward.

Remind yourself & others it is okay to slow down!


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Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only, it is important for readers to be mindful of all information presented & have their own due diligence. References:

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