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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.

86 thoughts on “Anxiety and Overthinking Everything”

  1. Social media is a big problem for me. Everytime my boyfriend likes a photo of a female I am scared he will leave and no matter how much he tells me it’s just a like I still think the worse and I have horrendous panic attacks. I just want it to stop.

  2. To be perfectly blunt, I’m not sure the article really helped me. It’s not that the advice isn’t good, because it is. See, I also struggle with depression along with anxiety. With overthinking I try to distract myself, but my depression steals all of my motivation and energy, so I laze about all day, overthinking. My anxiety seems to be social anxiety, as I have trouble accepting or even fathoming that my friends really like me and like having me around. What would you reccomend to someome like myself?

  3. Hi, my name is Tori, I recently was on birth control for 5months. I stopped taking my birth control 2 and 1/2 weeks ago. I had had some mood swings while on it but when I started my 5th pack I started developing severe anxiety and intrusive thoughts along with some depression. The day the anxiety hit was the day I started my period on the pill. This period came 2weeks early and lasted 10days. My face also started to break out while on the pill. I have had issues with anxiety in the past but learned how to cope with it and hadn’t had any problems with it in over 4years. I was wondering if you know anything about the link between birth control and anxiety. I will say that everyday seems a little bit better. I am taking supplements to help my hormones rebalance. I have also started practicing CBT and exposure therapy along with mindfulness. If you have any knowledge regarding this issue please let me know. I do not want to go on any anxiety medication because I feel like my brain can learn how to reprogram itself. Thank you so much !

    1. Hi Tori,
      A pharmacist or medical doctor should have great information about the correlation between anxiety and birth control. I’ve seen mixed reports on how much hormonal birth control causes/contributes to anxiety. It does seem that there is a relationship, which makes sense given the fact that hormones in birth control seem to affect neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. You’re wise in listening to your body and mind. Everyone is unique and has different responses to birth control and other medications. And speaking of medication, anxiety medication can be helpful for some but it’s not for everyone. It is definitely possible to reduce and manage anxiety without it.

  4. I always build up the worst thing that could happen at anytime with a client in my business and it never turns out to be even close to what I have worried myself about for days on end before the appointment! Even on weekends my anxiety and thoughts just plague me! I have to learn how to get away from this thinking pattern somehow! Loved your article!

    1. Hi Edgar,
      I think many, many people will relate to your comment — myself included! It is absolutely a thinking pattern, and awareness of it is the first step in breaking away from it. Once you’re aware (which you seem to be), you can start to intentionally turn your thoughts to positive, realistic things. It’s a process — and one that works! Thank you for your comment.

  5. Thank you so much! I recently got out of an argument with my boyfriend, and it was pretty bad, he concluded everything was fine now today but now my anxiety is always giving me the worst case senreos, such as what if he doesn’t love me? What if he’s faking? What if he actually wants to leave?” those thoughts make me cry as well as go about stir crazy, just wish me luck on getting over this, it’s such a mental battle, and no matter how much reassurance and effection he gives me, it always seems to not helo after he leaves for the day, it’s stressful needless to say. 😅

    1. Hi Mariah,
      Anxiety and overthinking, creating worse-case scenarios, etc. is definitely stressful. Sometimes it can be a helpful start to remind yourself (every time!) that just because anxiety puts a thought in your head doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Turn your attention to the evidence on the outside. It’s a process, but it’s a do-able process!

    2. I have that same problem and have found if You’re not careful you create a self fulfilling prophecy. What I mean is your constant worrying changes how you think and therefore how you act. The outcome is you create striff that wouldn’t be there if you thoughts were more positive. This extra tension often drives a wedge into the relationship.
      Looking at it in a more positive and realistic light does help. If he’s over the previous issue, as he says, then all is well. If he still has a problem, only time will tell. The worst that can happen is he moves on. Although painful, all the worry in the world won’t change the outcome.

  6. Really useful thank you for the advise. So difficult to switch off. Always imagine the worst situations at work and the reflection on me…switching off at weekends very hard

    1. Hi Rob,
      Thank you for your comment. I agree with you that switching off overthinking is difficult to do. Imagining the worst situations in one area tends to transfer to other areas, too. It truly doesn’t have to be this way forever. Thankfully!

  7. This post was helpful in distinguishing between social anxiety, which I’ve dealt with, but also performance anxiety. I didn’t have a word for the latter, so it’s helpful for me to journal and pin down when my anxiety is arising, pinpointing symptoms, and figuring out strategies for managing my symptoms. Thank you.

    1. Hi Nicholas,
      I’m really glad that this was helpful. Sometimes sorting out and giving words to what we’re experiencing is incredibly helpful. I think journaling is a great way to untangle things so they can be dealt with. Other readers will likely appreciate reading what works for someone else. Thank you for commenting and sharing!

  8. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this fantastic blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will share this website with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

    1. I agree with Clayton. I’d donate too. Normally, I wouldn’t post but this blog was so good, I couldn’t help it.

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