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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.

187 thoughts on “Anxiety and Overthinking Everything”

  1. My overthinking has interfered in my life. It seems to ha brought on anxiety symptoms, but the anxiety symptoms aren’t as intense as the symptoms I read about. They are a mild form, but my doctor immediately prescribes me medication for it. I’m disturbed by that, being that I’m already on antiseizure meds. I’m inspired by what you write and am scared of being on several psychoactive meds at one time. I’m on my first try of an anxiety med, but do not want to switch over to a different drug if this doesn’t work. As a patient, do I have the right to decline my doctor’s prescription and tough it out? I believe you’ll help me get through this 🙂

    1. Hi Julian,
      Thank you so much for your words. You gave me a boost today! 🙂 As for medication, your hesitation makes sense. The answer to your question is yes, you most definitely do have the right to decline! You can also seek second opinions at any time because doctors have different perspectives. Based on what you’ve written (I know there is a lot more to you than what’s here, but I’ll of course stick to just this), you might not even need to seek a second opinion at this point. That could come later *if* you begin to wonder if medication is worth trying. For now, it is perfectly reasonable and healthy to try other techniques to manage your anxiety before just jumping to medication. It’s always your choice. Seek input and info, then do what you believe is best for you. You’ve got this!

  2. They way i over think things constantly is that i think intensly about every little thing i do or about to do in details and then i think of all possible ways it could go wrong or right so im 100% sure its ol to do so and i also think about litterally every thing i want to say and if it makes sense before i say something (very often making me not say what i think) for example i will overthink about crossing the road and start thinking about all the ways a car could hit me and them overthink the car hitting me and a bunch of stuff like that. Its been going in for a few months, at least that i remember of. Should i seek help?

  3. Hi tanya,
    I have a girlfriend right now and she’s breaking up with me i think it’s because of her anxiety and depression she always think about everything like everyone hates me i think its just because of that and she’s an pessimistic she always think that we won’t last long i want to give up on everything i dont want to live anymore. I just wanna die. One time she said there was a girl and that girl is helping her to do suicidal she said that that girl said to me don’t be scared it’s not painful its just easy. For me as her boyfriend i kept on saying to her that you should value your life, we can get through it trust me i know you can! I know i can we will face everything together. I always say that to her. But now she’s breaking up with uou what should i say to her? I think it’s just because of her attacks we don’t have problems to each other and it just happened like i dont want to continue this relationship im sorry i shouldn’t come back i know this gonna happen. I really really need you help! I dont know what to do with her she’s always like that she’s a suicidal and i dont want to loose her i love her so much!

    1. Hi Joshua,
      What is terrible situation to be in. It sounds like you care about her a great deal. She’s lucky! There are times when another person (your girlfriend) is experiencing extreme mental health difficulties, and because of those difficulties, they aren’t receptive to what other people are telling them. She hears your words, but isn’t actually processing them. That is not your fault. You might try giving her the information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255; suicidepreventionlifeline.org (there’s an online chat service here). She quite likely needs professional help. You can express to her that you’ll help her through this. She might not be in a position to listen/receive your support. If that’s the case, you won’t be betraying her and you’re not a bad person if you step back. Give her some time and check in with her down the road a bit. Sometimes that’s the best way to care for someone else and yourself.

  4. I’ve had relationship anxiety thinking my girlfriend is always cheating or she’s gonna and how she’s gonna do it and also about work and it’s making me not wanna get out of bed or enjoy life.

  5. I’m drained with over thinking. I suffer with bipolar, OCD, anxiety and probably about 9 million other things undiagnosed. I am struggling right now not to self medicate I started my mental health journey as a teen and have self medicated all the way up to my age now ,38. The problem is when you stop self medicating it means you have to face reality. Of course its a “necessary evil”. I’m scared of reality but at the same time excited at the challenge. Its been 4 weeks clean and the over thinking is putting me under severe stress .I’m drained. But I’m sticking on this path I should have started years ago. I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m looking forward to seeing it.

    1. Hi Dan,
      Thank you for leaving this inspiring comment. It’s easy to feel that there is no hope, and your comment is going to be uplifting for so many. Congratulations on your 4 weeks clean! Not easy for so many reasons. Keep looking *forward* — with the healthy perspective you have, you’ll get to the light and beyond.

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