Q. My overactive imagination is making me lose grip on reality. Please help.

Answered by
Dr. Aditya Gupta
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jun 16, 2017 and last reviewed on: Aug 19, 2019

Hello doctor,

From more than a year, I have been facing mental health issues. It started with anxiety about developing schizophrenia and feeling detached from things. Since then, I often get periods of extreme anxiety, involuntary mental images of memories, imagination, dreams, and distorted memories. There are periods of time (1 to 2 weeks) when I feel completely fine. Despite my problems, I was able to take my exams, resume work, and have a social life. I have been seeing a psychologist, who tells me I am on the OCD spectrum. I am always scared that I am losing touch with reality.

From the past seven days, my symptoms are, I have very vivid dreams, and when I wake up, I am confused as to whether the dream actually happened or not, and it is only after some time that I convince myself that it did not happen. I have an overactive imagination. As a result, I often act out scenarios in my head. When someone says something, I imagine that they will say this or that next, or this will happen next. It is more like an anticipatory imagination. I try to hold my imagination back, as I am scared I will confuse it with reality. For instance, if a person is sitting in the room next to me, I will think that they are probably doing this or talking to someone or I think that this person will probably do this next. This causes me discomfort and panic, as I think that my overactive imagination is causing me to lose my grip on reality. I do know that this is my imagination, but I feel very scared or anxious as to why I imagine stuff like this in the first place.

Usually, in the morning, I feel extremely anxious and feel I have lost my grip on reality, so much so that my teeth chatter from morning to afternoon. I keep on getting mental images of distorted memories of the past, imagination, and dreams. I feel extremely unnerved when I get these mental images, as I feel that I should only be getting mental images of things that actually happened. Why is my imagination or dream bubbling up like this? I feel very anxious when I forget the source of these thoughts or images or cannot determine with 100 % surety as to whether this actually happened. These are mundane things. I also get memory problems. This is probably because I am thinking of my mental problems and not paying attention to things. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I feel like I am losing my touch with reality, as I am not paying attention when people are actually talking to me. I have been getting extreme feelings of deja vu for the past seven days. Sometimes, things or events seem familiar. It is an effort that I tell myself that this is deja vu.

Now the positive things are, there is no problem with my work or social life. I am instantly able to point out when I get these mental images or deja vu. There are periods of time (1 to 2 weeks) when I am completely fine. Strangely, these problems are at their maximum in the morning, and by evening I feel completely fine. My psychologist has told me that I am on the anxiety spectrum. I wanted to know whether someone with anxiety can have these symptoms.



Welcome to

From your description, it appears that you are having OCD(obsessive-compulsive disorder). Yes, all of your symptoms can be seen in it.

The main problem is that you do not have control over your thoughts, that is why imagery and other ruminations occur.

The extreme anxiety associated with these ruminations and anticipatory anxiety lead to other problems like memory problems.

It surely is not a psychotic illness like schizophrenia, and the symptoms and the positive points you told also go against it. You can also do a self-rating test of OCD like Y-BOCS (Yale-Brown obsessive compulsive scale), which you can easily find online.

Kindly consult a psychiatrist in-person for detailed evaluation and treatment. The treatments that are available are medications and psychotherapy.

Remember, every problem has a solution, you just need to try solving it and help is just a step away. Feel free to ask if you have any further queries.

For further queries consult a psychiatrist online -->

Thank you doctor,

I just wanted to know one more thing, as I said, I often get mental images of things from my imagination or past. These are involuntary. These cause a lot of panic and anxiety to me. For instance, yesterday, suddenly I got a mental image of a random office near my house, when in fact there is no such office. This caused me a lot of distress and led me to think that I am losing touch with my surroundings. Why am I getting such an image? What if these images cause me to lose touch with my surroundings? Can these mental images be a part of OCD?



Welcome back to

  • Yes, mental imagination can be a part of OCD. As I told you earlier, the main problem is you cannot control a thought or imagination, and that results in distress.
  • But, if you believe that image is true and not your imagination, then it could be a part of a psychotic disorder.

Hope this solves your query. Feel free to ask if you have any further queries.

For further queries consult a psychiatrist online -->

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