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What is Thought Blocking And How Can It Affect Someone with Schizophrenia?

What Is Thought Blocking?

Thought blocking is a symptom of schizophrenia and some other disorders that can be very challenging for patients and their loved ones to deal with. Thought blocking is defined as any experience where a person suddenly finds themselves unable to think, speak, or move in response to events that are happening around them. This may happen at any time. 
The average duration of episodes is between a few seconds to a minute or longer. However, episodes may last more than an hour in extreme cases. Sometimes it’s hard to identify someone who is experiencing thought blocking because they typically don’t make any noise and don’t seem like they’re doing anything. 
This condition can be extremely distressing to those affected by it and their loved ones. Additionally, it can make certain regular activities like driving or operating machinery dangerous. Even things like cooking can become hazardous in cases where a person experiences frequent episodes. It’s important to note that thought blocking is different than simply losing one’s train of thought, which happens to most people from time to time and isn’t usually a cause for concern.

How Thought Blocking Affects People With Schizophrenia

Day-to-day life can already be very challenging for those living with a schizophrenia diagnosis. Thought blocking further complicates things by interrupting an individual’s ability to think clearly, communicate with others, and complete regular activities. It is common for people with schizophrenia to experience episodes of thought blocking, especially during periods of acute psychosis or increased stress.


Think back to the last time you couldn’t think of a word or name. The frustration and confusion you may have felt is just a tiny taste of how thought blocking can feel on a daily basis for people with schizophrenia. It can be experienced as a disability, a source of disruption to daily life, and a cause for anxiety.

How To Help Someone Experiencing Thought Blocking

Thought blocking can be incredibly isolating and scary for those experiencing it, especially during prolonged episodes. As friends and family members, it’s crucial that we do everything we can to help our loved ones feel safe, understood, and supported through episodes of thought blocking. Consider joining a support group or going to family sessions to take an active part in helping your loved one stay on track and make progress towards managing their symptoms.


Simply being there for your loved one is the most important thing you can do to help during an episode of thought blocking. Even if they can’t respond, speaking to them in a gentle tone of voice and reassuring them that they’re safe and not alone will help lessen their anxiety. Ask questions calmly and pick up conversations where they left off once the episode passes to show your loved one that it’s okay if they get blocked sometimes.


It’s vital to learn everything we can about what schizophrenia is, how it affects people, and how we can best help our friends and family members with this condition. A strong support network makes all the difference when it comes to navigating life with schizophrenia. 

Life Adjustment Team

At LAT, we know how to support individuals and their families through their struggles with schizophrenia, including strategies for coping with thought blocking. For over 40 years, our state-of-the-art model of in-home outpatient treatment and rehabilitation has been helping people just like you and your loved ones overcome their problems and make progress towards recovery.


Our highly-trained, compassionate staff is here to help you gain control over your mental health and live a more fulfilling life. From inclusive, compassionate care to flexible, individualized treatment plans, we tailor our services to meet you and your family’s unique needs. 


Our Life Adjustment Team of behavioral health professionals and Clinical Case Managers focuses on assisting individuals in improving their mental health and quality of life by helping clients address behaviors and problems, identify their needs, and design a life plan to satisfy those needs. 


Our team will guide you every step of the way towards achieving your goals and implementing plans developed during treatment. Contact our Clinical Team to get started with us today!