A man veiled in shadows holds his hands to his head, a sign of mental health struggles.Thought disorder is a complex, often misunderstood mental health condition. From disorganized thinking to difficulty concentrating, this disorder can severely impact a person’s ability to lead their daily life in an efficient and independent way. But what are thought disorders? How do I recognize the signs? And what treatment options are available for those diagnosed with it?

In this article, Behavioral Hospital of Bellaire answers some of the most commonly asked questions about thought disorders. By outlining the signs, types and treatment options available, we hope to pave a path toward improved health and well-being.

What Is A Thought Disorder?

‘Thought disorder’ is a mental health condition that affects a person’s ability to think and write clearly and logically. They can manifest as disorganized thinking, difficulty concentrating or maintaining a train of thought, delusions or more. It is most commonly associated with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders, but it can also be a symptom of bipolar disorder and depression.

Given that schizophrenia affects 2.2 million people in the U.S., understanding the types and symptoms of thought disorder early on is critical.

Types of Thought Disorders

Overall, there are at least 20 distinct subtypes of thought disorders. Some of the most common include:

  • Alogia: Those with alogia typically present reduced speech output or an inability to produce coherent and meaningful speech. It is common among those with schizophrenia.
  • Tangentiality: Those with tangentiality typically veer off-topic when speaking and need help maintaining a coherent train of thought.
  • Neologisms: People with this type of thought disorder may create new words and insert them into conversation. These words are typically only understood by those with the disorder and have no external meaning.
  • Word Salad: Word salad takes place when a person’s thoughts are jumbled and lack any coherence or meaning. It is often displayed as a random assortment of words.
  • Echolalia: Those with echolalia may repeat or ‘echo’ the words of those around them, sometimes with no understanding of the words and with no attempts at initiating independent speech.
  • Thought Blocking: Thought blocking occurs when the person abruptly interrupts themselves. This interruption either causes a temporary (yet prolonged) delay in thought or, in some cases, causes a permanent halt to the thought.

What Are The Signs of A Thought Disorder?

Thought disorder can be difficult to diagnose due to the nature of the symptoms. For example, someone who has recently undergone a traumatic event or brain injury may present symptoms consistent with a thought disorder (such as disorganized thinking or difficulty concentrating). So how are thought disorders distinguished from other conditions?

Some signs that may indicate the need for thought disorder treatment include:

  • Difficulty concentrating or staying focused
  • Disorganized thinking and speech
  • Delusions or false beliefs
  • Hallucinations
  • Changes in behavior or mood
  • Difficulty with daily tasks and responsibilities
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Difficulty managing emotions
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

In addition to this, usually medical professionals will try to rule out other potential causes for these symptoms before reaching a diagnosis. There are also different tests that can be done, such as the Rorschach inkblot test and the Thought Disorder Index (TDI) test.

What Are The Options For Thought Disorder Treatment?

Although thought disorder can be a difficult condition for you or your loved one to cope with, effective treatment is possible. Depending on the type, severity and symptoms the patient is displaying, treatment options may vary. Additionally, sometimes medical professionals will recommend the patient engage in more than one type of treatment option. This allows for a more holistic approach to healing.

Some of the most common types of thought disorder treatment include:


Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a type of treatment that involves talking to a mental health professional about thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It can help patients identify and address underlying issues that contribute to their symptoms.

Psychotherapy is common in outpatient programs and outpatient therapy. Outpatient treatment modalities enable patients to receive care while still living independently. This can be beneficial for those with thought disorders, as they receive treatment for their disorder while practicing the skills they know in independent settings.

Some of the most common types of psychotherapy used in thought disorder treatment include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

Group Therapy

Group therapy involves a small group of people with similar mental health concerns who meet regularly to discuss their experiences and provide support to one another. It can be an effective form of outpatient treatment for thought disorders, as it enables people to connect with others who understand their struggles and learn from their experiences.

Group therapy can also provide a sense of community and reduce feelings of isolation, which may be common among people with thought disorders.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is another option for those who want to receive thought disorder treatment in an outpatient setting. It involves both the person with the thought disorder and their family members. Family therapy can help improve communication and relationships within the family and provide support for both the affected person and their loved ones. It can help family members understand their loved one’s condition and learn how to support them.

Medication Management

Medication management is another beneficial approach to outpatient treatment for thought disorders. Medications, such as antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, can help manage symptoms of thought disorder and improve a person’s overall functioning.

Medication management may take time to be effective. It typically involves regular outpatient therapy attendance to closely monitor and determine the most effective medication and dosage for the patient’s needs.

Overall, medication management should not be used as a standalone treatment for thought disorder. It is usually most effective when combined with therapy or other forms of treatment.

It’s Never Too Late

Thought disorder may seem like an overwhelming condition at first, but it is manageable. It all starts with education. By learning more about thought disorders and the available treatment options, you empower yourself to make the best decisions for you or your loved one’s health.

If you notice that you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of thought disorder, Behavioral Hospital of Bellaire is here to help. Our outpatient program for adults is designed to provide evidence-based, individualized thought disorder treatment that improves the quality of life of our patients. For more information, contact us at 1-800-423-0017 or by completing this form.

In case of a mental health crisis, CALL 988 or seek the nearest emergency room.

For physical health emergencies, CALL 911 or seek the nearest emergency room.

About Behavioral Hospital of Bellaire

Behavioral Hospital of Bellaire is a facility that provides specialized behavioral health services focused on helping adults learn the skills necessary to live successful meaningful lives. We offer acute mental health treatment in our inpatient psychiatric facility as well as less intensive outpatient care.

Located in Houston, Texas, we take an integrative approach to mental health by having our multidisciplinary work together with patients to create customized treatment plans that focus on their individual goals. Our programs include servicing adolescents, adults and older adults. Some of the conditions we treat are depression, anxiety, substance use and more. We also have a variety of evidence-based treatment practices, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy.

To schedule a no-cost assessment or for more information, please call 1-833-379-0017