I Can’t Stop Thinking About Someone! When Depression Becomes Obsession

Updated April 8, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team
You don’t have to look too long or too far to find a slew of pop songs that center around one theme “I just can’t stop thinking about you!” Whether the song is talking about a new crush, a romantic partner, or an ex, the implication is that it’s normal to think about someone all the time. And, to an extent, that’s true. But at what point does it become unhealthy to fixate on someone else? And what can you do about it? In this article, we’ll explore the answers to these questions.

Why can’t I stop thinking about someone?

If you’ve recently begun a new romantic relationship, it’s normal to feel like your partner is on your mind all the time.
 Provided the relationship is happy and healthy, it’s okay if you’re really into your new partner right now. This kind of “honeymoon period” is common in most new relationships because our brains are flooded with “happy hormones” such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.
Getty/Vadym Pastukh
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But if you can’t stop thinking about an ex or a crush who doesn’t love you back, your romantic fixations may be problematic. If someone breaks up with you or rejects you, it’s normal to still think about them for a little while. You may feel sad, angry, and alone due to the relationship ending, and that’s okay. But if you continue to think about that person for weeks, months, or even years on end, you’re headed toward some dangerous territory. That’s why it’s important to unpack your thoughts and feelings so you can learn why you’re still thinking about them and how to stop.

Maladaptive behavior and obsession

After a point, obsessive thoughts about someone can be considered a “maladaptive behavior.” In a nutshell, maladaptive behaviors cause negative outcomes when applied in most situations. For example, in the case of obsessing about someone and constantly finding yourself thinking, “Why do I keep thinking about that person?” the maladaptive behavior pattern occurs when you obsess and place all of your time and mental energy on someone else. One-sided behavior patterns like these rarely yield a positive result.

There is no scenario where obsessing about anyone or anything can produce a positive outcome when it comes to maladaptive behavior and obsession. Both obsession and maladaptive behaviors are unhealthy.

According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of obsession is related to “an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.” So, now that you know this, the next step is to ask yourself: “Why do I keep thinking about someone?” Once you embark on this journey of self-awareness by asking yourself that question, the next step is to follow up with a mental health professional so you can unpack the answer.

Unhealthy attachments in intimate relationships

When people grow up in households where unhealthy attachments in relationships are the norm – chances are substantially higher for developing more unhealthy attachments in adult dating and relationships. Unhealthy attachments and maladaptive behavior patterns can become your family legacy without proper redirection.

Some reports link human behavior to genetics. This means that some researchers believe that unhealthy attachments and maladaptive behavior patterns result from genetics being passed down between families. Others believe that maladaptive behavior patterns are learned. If this sounds like the concept of nature vs. nurture in different terms, you’re exactly right.


While there is some debate about the cause of maladaptive behaviors like obsession, many mental health professionals agree that the behaviors can be changed or “uninstalled” by applying cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. (CBT) is a behavior-based form of therapy that focuses on eliminating negative behaviors by eliminating the underlying maladaptive behaviors that cause them.

This behavior-based therapy model focuses on understanding human behavior and expression as the first step to making the necessary changes in the brain to eliminate the behavior over time. Now that you understand more about maladaptive behavior patterns, what’s causing them, and potential treatments, let’s look at one obsessive-compulsive disorder that may be closely linked to the reason why you’re constantly thinking about each other.

Relationship-obsessive compulsive disorder (ROCD)

Many people have heard the term obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), fewer people realize that this disorder is related to dating and married relationships.

Although “obsession” is a core component of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, living with ROCD doesn’t necessarily mean that you develop an unhealthy obsession with another person. Instead, ROCD commonly manifests as intrusive thoughts and fears about the relationship. Common ROCD obsessions include thoughts like, “What if my partner doesn’t love me anymore? What if I did something weird that hurt them, offended them, or put them off? I noticed that that other guy looked attractive— is that the same as cheating? Does that mean I don’t love my partner?”

These are common fears and concerns that people with ROCD experience. But as you can see from these examples, ROCD does not mean that you become obsessed with your partner in a Joe Goldberg from Youway. Instead, people who have ROCD are likely to fixate on themselves— on their thoughts, attractiveness, fidelity, and self-worth— through fear of their impact on the relationship. Someone with ROCD may also develop intense doubts about their partner’s love for them,which can lead to reassurance-seeking compulsions, such as repeatedly asking their partner if everything is okay or if they love you.

Likewise, if you experience symptoms of ROCD and your relationship with your partner ends, you may find it difficult to stop thinking about them. This can also lead to an obsessive cycle of asking yourself what went wrong, blaming yourself, and wondering what you could have done to prevent the breakup. Having these thoughts does not mean that someone with ROCD is dangerous or likely to lash out or hurt the person they obsess about. But these thoughts are certainly detrimental to a person’s mental health and self-esteem. So, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to reach out and get some help for your intrusive thoughts.

Finding a therapist

In the previous paragraph, we explored a potential answer to the question, “Why can’t I stop thinking about someone?” The symptoms of Romantic Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may be relatable for many people, but it might not be true for you. So, whether you’re struggling with ROCD, anger, anxiety, or something altogether different, a therapist can help you work through your feelings and develop new coping strategies.

Finding a licensed and affordable mental health provider like a therapist or professional counselor is as easy as entering a quick Google search for licensed therapy providers near me.

A licensed therapist can provide you with assessment, talk therapy, and medication management services to deal with the issues you’ve been having related to your obsession with your partner. Your therapist can help you identify what triggers the issues that cause you to feel obsessed and respond in maladaptive ways. Using a series of screening questions and diagnostic tools, your therapist can help you develop a treatment plan to mitigate the ongoing symptoms of obsession and help you answer, “What should I do? I can’t stop thinking about someone!”. They will help you stop thinking about why your behaviors are justified.

Therapy matching websites like MyTherapist.com can help you get matched with licensed psychologists, social workers, and professional therapists online. This therapy matching service connects mental health care seekers with licensed therapists licensed to provide counseling services in your state of residence. 

MyTherapist.com is a therapy directory that provides therapy matching for the following credentialed mental health professionals and experts.

Psychologists (Psy.D / Ph.D)

Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)

Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC / LPCC)

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT)

How online therapy sessions can help

When you begin taking part in online therapy sessions, your therapist will introduce you to new ways of solving problems and critical thinking skills to help you make better decisions. Online therapy sessions are conducted like regular in-office therapy sessions – without the face to face contact. Options for receiving therapy include online, video, and audio or phone sessions. How and when you have your therapy sessions is up to you and your counselor or therapist.

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Many people enjoy the flexibility of scheduling options that online therapy provides. Many of today’s mental health providers belong to therapy platforms like BetterHelp, which specialize in providing counseling and therapy services to mental health clients. 

Weekly sessions with a licensed therapist at BetterHelp.com start at just $65-$90.00 per week compared to traditional out-of-pocket therapy expenses of $65.00-$200.00 per hour.

Final thoughts

Now that you understand what could be driving your thoughts of “Why I can’t stop thinking about someone,” are you able to pull yourself out of the negative spiral that now seems to be controlling your life – or do you need help? In most cases, people cannot rescue themselves from the clutches of obsession and maladaptive behavior. While a small percentage of people can independently resolve mental health challenges, most adults aren’t. This doesn’t make you weak. This makes you human.

As mental health awareness grows and information on mental illness becomes more transparent – the stigma that used to be linked with mental health issues is starting to change. According to research done by the American Psychological Association via the Harris Poll, mental health statistics apply to adults in the United States annually.

1 in 5 adults in the United States lives with chronic mental illness annually.

19.8% of adults in the United States receive some form of inpatient or outpatient treatment for problems with emotions, nerves, and mental health.

Regarding gender, women reported more mental health concerns, with 22.3% of women and 15.1% of men reporting mental health issues annually.

The number of mental health cases reported annually – 11.2 million cases are considered serious and involve mental health diagnoses like schizophrenia, major depressive disorder (MDD), and bipolar disorder.


After looking at these staggering statistics, there is no wonder why there has been an increase in mental health care services due to mental health awareness and advocacy campaigns. Today’s mental health advocates foster knowledge and awareness that provide a productive change in the industry of the United States. If you’re ready to take charge of your thoughts by taking better care of your mental health care, contact a therapy expert to learn more today.

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