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Anxiety and Overthinking Everything

Anxiety and overthinking tend to be evil partners. One of the horrible hallmarks of any type of anxiety disorder is the tendency to overthink everything. The anxious brain is hypervigilant, always on the lookout for anything it perceives to be dangerous or worrisome. I’ve been accused of making problems where there aren’t any. To me, though, there are, indeed, problems. Why? Because anxiety causes me to overthink everything. Anxiety makes us overthink everything in many different ways, and the result of this overthinking isn’t helpful at all. Fortunately, anxiety and overthinking everything doesn’t have to be a permanent part of our existence. 

Ways Anxiety Causes Overthinking

An effect of any type of anxiety is overthinking everything. There are common themes to the way anxiety causes overthinking. Perhaps this generic list will remind you of specific racing thoughts you experience and help you realize that you’re not alone in overthinking everything because of anxiety.

  • Obsessing over what we should say/should have said/did say/didn’t say (common in social anxiety)
  • Worrying incessantly about who we are and how we are measuring up to the world (common in social and performance anxiety)
  • Creating fearful what-if scenarios about things that could go wrong for ourselves, loved ones, and the world (common in generalized anxiety disorder)
  • Wild, imagined results of our own wild, imagined faults and incompetencies (all anxiety disorders)
  • Fear of having a panic attack in public and possibly thinking that you can’t leave home because of it (panic disorder with or without agoraphobia)
  • Worrying about a multitude of obsessive thoughts, sometimes scary ones and thinking about them constantly (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • Thinking — overthinking — a tumbling chain of worries, vague thoughts, and specific thoughts (all anxiety disorders)

Result of Anxiety and Overthinking

With anxiety, not only are these thoughts (and more) running through our brains, but they are always running through our brains, non-stop, endlessly. Like a gerbil hooked up to an endless drip of an energy drink, they run and run and wheel around in one place, going absolutely nowhere. Day and night, the wheel squeaks.

Over-thinking everything is a horrid part of anxiety disorders. Over-thinking everything creates more anxiety. This tip helps stop over-thinking. Check it out.Anxiety and overthinking everything makes us both tired and wired. One result of the thinking too much that comes with anxiety is that we are often left feeling physically and emotionally unwell. Having these same anxious messages run through our head everywhere we go takes its toll.

Further, another dangerous result of anxiety and overthinking everything is that we start to believe what we think. After all, if we think it, it’s real, and if we think it constantly, it’s very real. Right? No. This is a trick anxiety plays. Anxiety causes overthinking, but with anxiety, these thoughts aren’t always trustworthy.

You have the power and the ability to interfere in anxiety’s overthinking everything. It’s a process that involves many steps, but a step you can take right now to slow down that gerbil is to have something with you or around you to divert your attention. Rather than arguing with your thoughts or obsessing over them, gently shift your attention onto something else, something neutral. By thinking about something insignificant, you weaken anxiety’s ability to cause you to overthink everything.

I explain this further in the below video. I invite you to tune in.

Let’s connect. I blog here. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. My mental health novels, including one about severe anxiety, are here

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of four critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges as well as a self-help book on acceptance and commitment therapy. She speaks nationally about mental health, and she has a curriculum for middle and high schools. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

106 thoughts on “Anxiety and Overthinking Everything”

  1. Hello, I have depression and anxiety, I started to see mental health professional, he gave me medicine and when I took them all thoughts in my head went away, I felt powerful and I had self confidence, I started reaching my goals by trying without fear. It was awesome, then with some bad events “like my classmate made fun of me” happened and suddenly I was same as before. My Dr. increased the dosage and then I started to loose my memory and my hand were shaking like an old man, I still have problem remembering casual words, I saw another Dr and she reduced dosage of my medicine. Now I don’t have shaking hands and I’m not nervous, but I lost my power, I still repeat conversations in my mind and its killing me. I loved the time I had free mind, I could reach my plans. I want to know whether these medicine made me addicted or not? because I feel I need them so much to be normal.
    Sorry for wrong typing, I’m not english 🙂

    1. Hi Soudabeh,
      You communicate very well. It’s the meaning that counts. 🙂 I’m not in a position to be able to evaluate medication — it could be harmful to you if I tried to do so. I can say, though, that the general role of medication is to help the brain itself (the physiology, neurochemistry, etc.) so that we are better able to address things like overthinking, worrying, etc. When you first began taking the medication and felt powerful, what else was different? What were your thoughts about yourself and others, and how did your actions change? If you can uncover what positive things you were thinking and doing, you can start to do more of that to take your power back from anxiety. You and the medication can work as a team. The medication can help your brain, and you can help your “self” — who you are and who you want to become.

  2. Hi.i almost past 5 years for BS.c degree in pharmacy but it incomplete .yet.now i have 58 credit more.my main problem is i can’t memorize n always forget.my anxiety is i don’t want to continue ,i am afraid and lost.i can’t talk to my parents.i always think about my graduation.i can or can not plz advise me.p

    1. Hi Nowshin,
      There is a high rate of anxiety among university students, so know that you aren’t alone. For that reason, most (if not all) schools have counseling centers, which are typically free of charge for students. The counselors there know the unique situation of university students and are equipped to help you figure out specific elements of your anxiety, examine your goals, figure out ways to talk to parents if you want to do that, and more. Sometimes counseling centers are housed in the same building as testing centers, so that might be a good place to start (of course, the website should have the location, too). Also, there are often many types of support groups within universities, including anxiety-based groups. People meet to discuss what’s causing anxiety and share ways they handle it. Meetup.com or an app specific to your university might have information. Don’t give up. It is very possible to get past this anxiety.

  3. Hi Tanya so I just started doing research on anxiety and overthinking because I knew something wasn’t right. I smoke weed on a daily basis and was wondering if there is such a thing like weed induced anxiety? Lately I’ve been notincing how I overthink everything and assume everyone is out to get me or hurt me which isn’t true but my thoughts are what kill me. I don’t know what to do or if I’m the only person like this. because of some stuff that happened in the past I feel like every negative thing that someone says is about me which it might be or might not be but I don’t know and my thoughts won’t let it go. So I shutdown and become anti social.

    1. Hi Madeline,
      The findings about marijuana use and anxiety are still mixed. Some reports state that marijuana can reduce anxiety while others state that it can cause or increase anxiety. Marijuana does affect each person differently, so it is indeed possible that it is contributing to your overthinking and thoughts that people are out to get you. Marijuana has been known to cause psychotic breaks, which involve a separation from reality or a confusion between thoughts and reality, such as thoughts that people are going to hurt you even thought you know it isn’t true. You might consider consulting with a doctor or naturopath, whichever you prefer, to discuss your symptoms. He/she can help you determine what’s going on and where you want to go from here. It seems like you have good insight into yourself and changes you’re experiencing, and that’s excellent. You are in a good healing position.

  4. Anything available for a spouse of an over thinker? How to help the over thinker? How to live with an over thinker on a daily basis? How to help a relationship with an over thinker work? Anything along those lines that could potentially save a marriage to an over thinker? Feeling lost and help/hopeless

    1. Hi Rob,
      You are not alone. Being in a relationship with someone struggling with mental health challenges can be very difficult. It’s because you care that it is so difficult and leads to that lost and hopeless feeling. There needs to be more resources available for people in your situation. One resources is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – NAMI.org. If there’s one in your community, they might have information and resources for you. Also, there is a book called Loving Someone with Anxiety: Understanding and Helping Your Partner by Kate N. Thieda that you might find helpful. It is broader than overthinking, but because overthinking is part of anxiety you might find it useful.
      Perhaps other readers will chime in and share their experiences!

  5. This video May be so helpful to me because I also suffer from anxiety . I think a lot, I have fear of the unknown. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind, I fear being alone and just have weird thoughts.

    1. Hi Keybert,
      Everything you describe is a legitimate part of anxiety. I’m glad you found something that might help. Keep doing what you’re doing — seeking information about anxiety and trying things you find useful. Anxiety can sometimes make us feel helpless, but that’s one of anxiety’s tricks. You can overcome anxiety.

  6. Hi Tanya Peterson! Thank you for this video. I have ALWAYS had overthinking problems and never knew why I’m like this. I recently learned about the 7 types of ADD and was researching how to fix my problem and came across your video. Recently my mother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, AND also a thing that happened to me that could’ve turned out bad, but turned out good has caused me to have obsessive thoughts that the good news is not true. I obsess a lot to the point where I cry and tell myself that the good news is not true. It is making me a mess and say I don’t want to live. I also obsess over how am I going to die. I didn’t know how to deal with this. Living life like this is awful. But I thank God I saw your video because I am going to try this technique. I think this will work! I will write again when I have good news to report to you. Thank You!

    1. Hello Robin,
      I’m so happy that you’d like to give this a try. I know you’ll have good news to report, and I’m looking forward to reading about it! Be patient with yourself, as our thoughts can take root deeply. It’s possible to stop overthinking. If I can do it, anyone can. 🙂

  7. hi my name is Jerry.I think too much but I don’t know why…I m scared that something gonna happen to me to my family. wen I watch something videos or pictures of accident, suicides, killing of people which is graphically not suitable for anyone . I always think it’s somedays gonna happen to me or to my family..im also going through depression. before leaving the country I went to the doctor for my checkup..doctor told me that im going through depression he explained me the reason and given me medicines prescriptions. one week I took the tablets.. doc told me to visit after one week.. but I was going to join for work in Qatar.I took more tablets and went their..it felt me better for a month… but again it has started …now it’s been 5 months I’m going again through this.. please can you help me out.

    1. Hi Jerry,
      Depression and anxiety can be stubborn. Medication takes time to work, and often it falls short by itself. Do you have access to mental health professionals? If not in person, you might consider looking for online therapy services. A professional can help you deal with fear, anxiety, depression, and overthinking. Something you can start on right away is taking time every day to take several slow, deep breaths. This actually creates positive changes in the brain. While doing this, you can visualize something that makes you calm and happy. You can also practice mindfulness. When you find yourself overthinking, use all of your senses to pay attention to the present moment. What is really happening around you? What good is within you and around you, etc. Doing these things can start to provide immediate relief in moments while you work with someone to create more strategies.

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