Accelerated Thinking Syndrome: what is it and what are the treatments?

Accelerated thinking syndrome (SPA) is a set of symptoms that involves an overproduction of thoughts, which arise at high speed and end up leaving the individual mentally exhausted.

In this article, we will explain more about what this syndrome is about and what the treatment is.


What is Accelerated Thinking Syndrome (SPA)?

SPA is not a disorder in itself, but a set of symptoms present in several disorders, but which often stands out among the different symptoms that a person presents.

However, it is not a disorder in itself, but a set of symptoms present in several disorders, but which often stands out among the different symptoms that a person presents.

Unlike changes in judgment, the Accelerated Thinking Syndrome does not change the central themes of thoughts. Therefore, the content of thoughts can be related to anything from work to interpersonal relationships, and can be both positive and negative.

The question is not so much what the person is thinking about, but the speed at which the person thinks. An accelerated speed of thought can bring several losses, such as mental exhaustion, concentration difficulties, among others.

The term “Accelerated Thinking Syndrome” was coined by Augusto Cury, a Brazilian psychiatrist who has written several books published in more than 70 countries. Despite this, the syndrome is not recognized as a diagnosis by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of SPA are:

  • Anxiety;
  • Mental exhaustion;
  • Concentration difficulties;
  • Escape of ideas;
  • Memory lapses (forgetting small day-to-day events);
  • Difficulty sleeping;
  • Irritability;
  • Restlessness;
  • Feeling of constant dissatisfaction;
  • Headaches;
  • Pain in the muscles;
  • Gastritis;
  • Loss of hair;
  • Feeling of lack of time.

What are the causes of Accelerated Thinking Syndrome?

There are no specific causes for the appearance of SPA. However, it is often the result of some undiagnosed or untreated underlying disorder.

Among the disorders that can cause an acceleration in thoughts are:

  • Anxiety disorders;
  • Bipolar affective disorder (TAB);
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD);
  • Substance abuse, among others.

This syndrome is common in people who exercise intellectual work, such as people in executive positions, health professionals, journalists, writers, teachers, students, etc.

The fast thinking is quite common in Disorder Anxiety Generalized (TAG) , a disorder in which anxiety is related to the day to day tasks and work. In other words, it is an anxiety that does not always cause intense crises, but it is constantly present.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis of Accelerated Thinking Syndrome does not exist officially , however, a psychiatrist or psychologist can use the term to explain a set of symptoms that a person may be showing.

In general, SPA is related to some underlying psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety disorders , bipolar disorder , ADHD , among others. Therefore, the psychiatrist must investigate issues related to these disorders in order to make an adequate diagnosis.

If Accelerated Thinking Syndrome is a symptom related to bipolar disorder, for example, it will be associated with symptoms of mania or hypomania, such as excessive energy, decreased need for sleep, irritability, feelings of greatness or, in more extreme cases, symptoms psychotic disorders such as delusions and hallucinations.

However, if it is related to an anxiety disorder, the psychiatrist will look for the presence of anxious symptoms such as shortness of breath, palpitations, anguish, sweating, tremors, among others.

What is the treatment of Accelerated Thinking Syndrome?

Bearing in mind that SPA is usually caused by an underlying disorder, it is important that this disorder is treated appropriately to prevent the syndrome from manifesting itself.

In this sense, treatment can vary widely from case to case. A person with bipolar disorder will be treated with antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and / or anxiolytics . People with an anxiety disorder, on the other hand, may only need an anxiolytic to treat their disorder.

Therefore, treatment should be discussed carefully with the psychiatrist, in order to arrive at the appropriate approach for the condition.

It is worth mentioning that the medications can help to combat the symptoms, but they do not solve the problem by itself.

Treatment with a psychologist is of paramount importance for the person to learn to deal with their own thoughts, as they will learn techniques to decrease the flow of thoughts, as well as techniques to relax and better deal with stressful situations and generating anxiety.

What to do to calm the thoughts?

Mindfulness exercises

Mindfulness, or meditation, is a technique whose aim is to focus on the present moment. This technique can be useful for dealing with accelerated thoughts, as it helps the person to get rid of worries and thoughts that are not related to the present moment.

Mindfulness exercises are easy to do. You can try to pay attention to the 5 senses, mentally describing what you are perceiving – the pressure of the floor on your feet, the posture, the objects you are observing, etc.

So, trying to keep your mind focused on the present moment is the key point of mindfulness , and can help a lot in cases of anxiety and very fast thoughts.

Leisure time

Having time for leisure is of paramount importance for mental health as a whole, and can also assist in the SPA.

Thus, being distracted by pleasurable activities, hobbies, social activities, among others, can help to combat not only symptoms of accelerated thinking syndrome, but also several symptoms of the underlying disorders.

Physical exercises

Bearing in mind that accelerated thoughts are often related to anxiety, physical exercise can help to combat them.

This is because physical activity is one of the natural ways to combat anxiety and depression , bringing benefits not only to the body but also to mental health as a whole.


Currently, with the portable internet promoted by smartphones and other technological devices, people are constantly connected to a “stimulus bomb”.

This overload of stimuli impairs some cognitive abilities, such as attention and even the flow of thoughts. Therefore, spending time offline can help to combat this overload, also decreasing the flow of thoughts – after all, there are no stimuli giving new materials to be thought about.


If fast thinking is very connected to work, taking a vacation can help fight this syndrome, at least for a while.

It is recommended to take smaller holidays more often (instead of taking 30 days of vacation each year, taking fewer days, but more than once a year) to be able to disconnect from work and rest better.