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Anxiety and Overthinking Everything

December 31, 2015 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

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.

APA Reference
NCC, T. (2015, December 31). Anxiety and Overthinking Everything, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/12/anxiety-and-over-thinking-everything



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. 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.

Carrie
says:
April, 21 2018 at 8:20 pm
I’ve been struggling with what I think is anxiety since I was probably around 19... I’m 23 now. Heck it might be longer but the last couple of years it’s been the worst & I can’t even ignore it anymore. I can’t get even my license bc of the fear & over thinking anxiety gives me. It affects my love life I can be fine for months but the out of nowhere I completely overthink about my relationship “omg he hates me” “he’s gonna leave me” “he’s being weird, this is it he’s gonna end it” constantly goes through my head 24/7 ! & it causes problems bc I start acting weird & no matter what I do I can’t stop... my anxiety has ended 2 of my relationships & im working on a 3rd. Anxiety effects my job I’m constantly worried I won’t hav enough time or I’m not doing something right I’m a cna btw. I have low self esteem I’ve had my whole life.... I haven’t had the best life I’ve seen & went through things I never should have, horrible things. I know that’s completely destroyed the way I feel about myself. I have an appointment in a few days to see a doctor.... I want medication... but then I think what if it doesn’t help what if I’m just like this & nothing I do can stop it... what if there’s just something wrong with me. I know the medication will take a little to work & even then it might not be the right anxiety medication for me. I just don’t know what to do anymore

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 27 2018 at 11:59 am
Hi Carrie,
I hope your appointment went well. Seeing a doctor for help is a really good first step. You're right about the medication, but that's okay. If your did prescribe something, maybe it won't work. But maybe it will. Either way, you have begun your journey to heal, and that's a very positive thing. It can take time, but even so, you can get better. That feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do is normal. When every you think it, remind yourself that you are doing something already. Time will tell if you'll need to do something different, but right now the important thing is that you have begun to take action. Have you considered seeing a therapist. Many times, a combination of medication and therapy work very well. Keep seeking help and treatment because you can reduce your anxiety so it doesn't interfere in your life anymore.
Rayna
says:
April, 19 2018 at 4:27 pm
I have been suffering from anxiety for 15 years I am now 30 and have a really hard time living a normal life I always think somthing is wrong with me and it makes me super anxious it can be a simple weird feeling in my throat that will trigger my anxiety causing me to hyper ventalate I don't like to be fat from a hospital . Does anyone else have this.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 27 2018 at 11:53 am
Hi Rayna,
You have described anxiety very well. There are many types of anxiety, but there are things they all share in common. Regarding your question about anyone else having this, I'll give you an answer as well as leave this open for others to respond. Other people do indeed have this. Just in the united states, over 40 million people live with some sort of an anxiety disorder, and together, anxiety disorders are by far the most common mental disorder. This means that therapists are trained to help people with anxiety. Working with a therapist can help you with these symptoms and more. This doesn't have to last!
Susan George
says:
April, 16 2018 at 5:53 am
Social anxiety is becoming a big problem these days, nice post thanks for sharing.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 27 2018 at 11:48 am
Hi Susan,
Thanks for your comment! I agree with you about social anxiety becoming more of a problem. I think a lot of societal changes are at work here.
Cat
says:
April, 15 2018 at 2:31 am
Hi :) I had posted a comment before but I'm not sure where it is so I'm sorry if there are two ??. I'm 17 and I've always been a worrier. It's not new to me to overthink everything (I overthink every interaction with people to the point that I convince myself that they hate me). I really suffer from stress in school and I was talking to a teacher about it but now I regret it cause I've convinced myself she finds me annoying and hates me even though she says I can talk to her any time. Im so nervous because I'm worried I wasted her time. My parents don't really think what I feel is anything unusual or important like they say every teenager is stressed and I think they got a bit upset finding out I talked to a teacher because they felt like I was being dramatic . I just feel like everyone hates me and I have really low self esteem and confidence. I just don't know what to do I feel so stressed all the time and most of the time there is no solid reason. I'm just always so anxious and I have a constant knot in my stomach. I just don't know what to do :( do you think I might have anxiety? Do you think it's important or am I overeacting?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Carebear
says:
April, 18 2018 at 2:27 pm
I suffer with it to. Best advice I can give is to seek help sooner than later. My life was pretty much the same. Parents thought it was no big deal and made me feel like it was just me. I have even had someone tell me that I need to get over it. They don't understand it is not something you can just get over. I had to get away from negative people. I am still looking into getting some medication to help. I would also seek out others dealing with it. I was really struggling today till I read your post. Knowing I am not alone helps. Logically that tells me and should you that nothing is wrong with us, In the sense that we are not weird. I know I know with our brain that is hard to believe, but it does help. I know I am a stranger, but you really have helped me just by sharing your story. Thank you!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 27 2018 at 11:46 am
Hi Carebear,
I shared a link with Cat that you might like as well. It's to a post entitled Anxiety Says Everyone Hates Me, and there are many comments. Here's the link: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/05/anxiety-says-everyone-hates-me/

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 27 2018 at 11:45 am
Hello Cat,

I don't think you are overreacting at all. This is something that is bothering you, and therefore it's legitimate. I wouldn't risk doing you harm by trying to diagnose you, but I will say that what you describe is similar to anxiety, especially social anxiety. Anxiety is complex and Carebear is right - getting help is important. Just to reinforce the fact that you're not alone and that feeling like everyone hates you feels very real but is a mind trick played by anxiety, I'll share two things. The first is that I can relate to what you describe because I used to think very similar things. This can be overcome, so don't give up. Second, this is a link to a post entitled Anxiety Says Everyone Hates Me. There are numerous comments on the post, and reading through them might help you find useful information. https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/05/anxiety-says-everyone-hates-me/
Lub
says:
April, 13 2018 at 3:53 am
Hello my name is lub toqeer
From last month i am vary stressed,confussed and worried i had panic attack that time i was supposed that i m just going loss my life my heart was just racing fast and bp was high have trouble in breathing after that i am just over thinking about death about that condition .i have pain in full body some time chest and throat .its is just unexplainable how i feel its just horrible i cant explain it in words.my stomic is not good every time from last 30 days .i m taking indrioll 40mg but it doesnt effect my condition still my thoughts is same.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 13 2018 at 11:05 am
Hi Lub,
I'm sorry you are experiencing this. What you describe can very much be a part of anxiety and panic attacks. It's a frightening experience, and people do describe thinking they're going to die. It's always important to have physical symptoms checked out by a doctor just to rule out causes other than anxiety. Since you're taking medication, I'm guessing you have done that. Next you can turn your attention to reducing anxiety. You're right about medication not helping thoughts. Medication will help the physical brain, structures and chemistry/electrical activity, which then allows you to work on your thoughts. It's a gradual process, but you can change your thinking and your responses to your thoughts.

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a useful approach for treating anxiety. This article provides some info: https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/articles/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-for-anxiety-and-panic/

Acceptance and commitment therapy is another helpful approach to anxiety: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/07/stop-avoiding-anxiety-acceptance-and-commitment-therapy/

Practicing mindfulness can also be highly effective in dealing with anxious thoughts and panic attacks: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2017/11/diy-anxiety-relief-make-3-mindfulness-tools/

Keep working on this, Lub. There isn't a quick fix, but there is a fix.
Joanna
says:
April, 7 2018 at 10:24 am
Hey, I’m joanna and I’m 26 years old. I’m a mother and a biology major who is doing 16 hours this semester. I recently had to quit my job as an ER scribe because I had a really bad panic attack on shift. Because I had the first panic attack I’ve started having more. On the way to school last week I had a really bad one and had to go to the hospital. In the past I have had to go to the hospital for panic attacks but it has been a year and I thought I finally had my life back. When my allergies act up I often struggle with increased anxiety and it’s hard for me to drive because I’m more prone to panic attacks when I drive. Now I’m terrified to drive to school. This happened last time and I would have to leave class because of panic attacks. I’ve also noticed the same pattern with my fiancé where I’d be constantly worried he would cheat on me because of my past experiences in other relationships. I want to feel normal again and regain control of my mind. I want to feel free to go anywhere without having to worry about having a panic attack. I know they don’t kill you but they feel so awful that it’s terrifying. Do you have any thoughts on how I can override my brain’s panic response? I feel like a car with a broken alarm.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 10 2018 at 10:10 am
Hi Joanna,
I love your metaphor of a car with a broken alarm. That is a very apt way to describe panic attacks. Have you seen a therapist for this? I can't diagnose, of course, but what you describe is similar to panic disorder. A therapist can help determine if that's what's going on and work with you on treatment specific to panic disorder.

In the meantime, mindfulness is very helpful in overriding the panic response. Cognitive behavior therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy are useful, too, but often the brain is stuck in a pattern and can't break out of it easily, making things like CBT and ACT frustrating at best. Mindfulness is something that gently redirects the brain and begins to override that panic response. When you notice panic rising or even find yourself in the midst of a panic attack, find one thing on which to focus. You can carry something with you or find something around you. Don't argue with the panic or try to talk yourself out of it. Simply redirect your thoughts onto the object. Notice how it looks, feels, sounds, etc. (depending on the object). Do this consistently to teach the brain to shift its attention. Over time, the brain responds quickly and panic attacks become shorter, milder, and eventually even nonexistent. You also prepare your brain for structured approaches like CBT and ACT if you'd like to try those. Panic is an automatic response, but it doesn't have to be a permanent one. You can fix your broken car alarm!
Lisa
says:
April, 6 2018 at 8:11 am
Hello, I'm 18 years old and I have this one friend. We've known each other for about
4 years now but not until 5 months ago we had not very much to do with one another.
For me he is just a friend but the problem is he is kind of sending my mixed signals.
I must admit I am a natural flirt, I mean I just like to tease the people around me and flirt with them, like literally everybody, that's just how I am.
At first when he started teasing me back I didn't mind. Then as the time flew by people started asking me what our relation between us is.
Slowly I started to overthink everything he did, like paying me dinner, carrying my purse when we were out, giving me small massages and everything. So I thought he may like me more than just a friend. I wouldn't say that I had caught feelings for him, but I realised that he was on my mind constantly.
So I kind of thought maybe we would develop a relationship someday, like in a romantic way.

But then I found out that the kissed a friend of mine and they made out and it just really confuses me. Like he is totally confusing. I don't get what he wants.

I know that I am overthinking and that I honestly should not care about that but I just can't stop. That's why I am writing.
Maybe you could give me some advice?

I would appreciate it very much.

Kindest regards,
Lisa

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 10 2018 at 9:56 am
Hi Lisa,
Relationships, both friendships and romantic partnerships, can be difficult to navigate. Overthinking is very common, especially because there are no easy, obvious answers. You are probably well aware of this! HealthyPlace has a relationships community that you might find to be a helpful resource. You can find it here: https://www.healthyplace.com/relationships/
Jhaneez
says:
April, 5 2018 at 6:51 am
Hi. My ex-bf is suffering from anxiety, panic attacks & stress due to being jobless, love ones who are sick & billings that pilling up. He is always tired & sleepy. We are into long distance relationship. He started avoiding me (no text/calls) 2 months ago. He will only respond to my messages after 16 hrs. Then he told me that he doesn't know if he loves me. Every time I asked him if he still wants me in his life he just answer me with "I don't know". Every thing with him is an argument. He have had history of depression and anxiety. He told me that he is constantly overwhelmed and feeling too much pressure from me. I was hurt so I decided to let him go. But then I tried to work things out with him several times but he keeps telling me that I left him. According to him he misses me but he doesn't know if he loves me. We are no longer talking. He's not taking any medications and/or seeking the help of a Therapist. I don't even know if everything he say are whats really on his mind & heart.I am worried. Thank you

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

S
says:
April, 6 2018 at 5:26 am
Why would u even WANT a guy like that? U need councling.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jhaneez
says:
April, 7 2018 at 5:08 am
He is a gentle giant. I want him because I've known him in person. He never hurt me physically. Just because they have this mental illness doesn't mean that no one will ever love them or understand them. :)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Saptarshi maji
says:
April, 6 2018 at 10:54 pm
See this is the time he needs you .. you have to be calm .just remember whatever he is saying is because of his anxiety . Let him to join meditation and yoga .give him a bit more time .
Padyee
says:
March, 31 2018 at 12:08 pm
I am 40 year old ,mother of 2 kids and working as full time employees of good IT company. I have thyroid since last 2 years and had brain tumor surgery in Nov2017. Surgery is successful. After surgery I am having vitamin D , B12 and Iron deference taking medicine.I resumed work last month after 3 months medical leave. Now a days I am thinking so much about work. I am keep trying to avoid work thoughts but it’s becoming impossible. I feel work pressure and peer pressure is high. All are men’s in my team I feel they are better than me. I am doing my work successfully no complaints from anybody. Recently my manager assign me more work and I feel overwhelming. My manager is not understanding work load. He is thinking it’s simple and I am making complicated. I am constantly thinking how to get this done without any problems. Some people in my team enjoy their life at work come late and go early and he assigned their work to me. I have requested him I am not fully recovered give me another 3/4 months I can not take more responsibilities right now I can handle only my work which I was supporting before surgery. He didn’t support. He asked me to prioritize work and push back if I have other work commitments on that day. When I push back some work for next day then he is asking me to get that done on requested time. Yesterday I was so sad and cried almost 8 hours. I woke up morning with same work thoughts. One mind says resign then other mind says it’s very good company 15 mins commute let’s accept it , it is what it is. if I find another job then commute time will be more than hour. Also I have to put extra effort to understand new work and i don’t know how team members and manager. Here I am working more than 2 years I know system very well , good team. My husband is also working in IT he is good but really I want someone to understand me. Ladies can understand ladies problem. Men’s point of view is different than women.As per him it will be lot of work even you go anywhere. My parents can’t understand this because they never worked.Sometimes I talk with friends but not always they pick up my phone. I don’t like to be stay at home mom.If I leave this job and I didn’t get another job soon then.
I am constantly thinking about work. I have 2 kids one is in middle school and is in elementary school. Now a days I am not thinking about my kids, family. After coming from office ,something I cook and give them food, take them to actives that’s it. Don’t feel like talking. My thyroid level became high in last 2 weeks because of stress. I am feeling so much tired. Now a days I don’t enjoy anything like watching TV , Facebook, listing music. I like to talk with friends, go out but I don’t have many friends.Weekend we both are busy with kids activities, groceries and cooking ,nothing special on weekends no party, no get together.
I don’t know is this Anxiety , depression?
Can I see the psychiatrist. Shall I leave this job and relax for few months. Don’t know what to do.
I am not good at English writing. I feel uncomfortable while writing I can talk but can’t write. English is not my native language.
Please let me Tanya what shall I Do.
Thanks

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 2 2018 at 10:35 am
Hi Padyee,
Don't worry about your English in writing. I can understand you perfectly. While I'm not in a position to diagnose you, I'll just make an observation that what you are describing does have some components of both anxiety and depression. But that doesn't mean that they're strong enough or numerous enough to be full-blown anxiety or depression. It makes a lot of sense that you are feeling this way and having so many thoughts about work. Returning to work after any health issue -- especially brain surgery -- is a challenge, and thyroid issues make matters worse. It's amazing how much the tiny thyroid has to do with our health and wellbeing. You were very right in communicating to your boss that you haven't fully recovered yet. I'm sorry he didn't listen. You have a lot going on in addition to healing, and it sounds like it all involves work, whether that work is at your job or at home with your family. Your kids are at challenging stages that can be exhausting physically and mentally.) You're tired from healing and from demands plus aren't able to have the element of fun/enjoyment in your life right now. That all takes its toll. This is normal and will pass, but it's difficult while it's happening. You mentioned a psychiatrist. You might not need a psychiatrist, as psychiatrists specialize in medication. You might consider a therapist (especially a woman). You can talk with a therapist, and you can sort things out. As difficult as things are right now, you will get through this. You're speaking up, and you know that you don't like how things are right now so you're looking for ways to change. Right there is proof that you'll get through this.
Padyee
says:
April, 2 2018 at 5:15 pm
Thanks Taniya for suggestion and giving me hope to look positively.
Alyssa Sequera
says:
March, 30 2018 at 12:59 pm
Hello,
this is hard for me to explain, but I’m worried about my best friend (14). We used to talk, laugh and do everything together, but recently she’s been very quiet and distant. However, this only happens when we’re in a certain friendship group because when we hang out with other people in school she suddenly becomes her bubbly self again. When she’s distant, she seems to try to avoid any conversation and is always on her phone (she never used to do this) . So, I asked her what was wrong because I couldn’t handle not knowing any line her. She says she just overthinks everything, such as other people’s reactions, and she worries too much. However, she won’t tell me exactly what’s going on with her. She mentioned that she looks at web pages to educate herself on what’s bothering her, but it makes her even more upset. She also told me that some days she’ll be alright, but on others she won’t. I’ve tried being a supportive friend by giving her advice, but I don’t really know what I should be doing. She said she’s really stressed about everything and she definitely didn’t look very happy when we were talking. I’m worried about her because I don’t want her feeling bad and overthinking anything, I want her to go back to her normal happy self. Any advice?

Thank you,
Alyssa.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 2 2018 at 10:54 am
Hi Alyssa,
It's really cool that you have gone to such lengths to help your friend. Not everyone would do this (how much better the world would be if everyone could be so caring and act on it). That said, it's important for you to know that you aren't responsible for other people and their happiness or actions. Do what you can do, like talking to her, reaching out for help, and know that other people have responsibility for themselves, too. I just wanted to throw that out there because sometimes people who are so caring and who value friendships like this can put too much on their own shoulders. :)

It would be good if your friend could connect with an adult who can listen and talk to her from a different perspective (outside of her peers who she feels she has to put on a bubbly face for or avoid by hiding behind her phone). Anybody that has been a positive part of her life will be a good start. Maybe a teacher, school counselor, or other school staff member, coach/activity leader, clergy member, etc. You can gently suggest to your friend that she talk to someone. If she refuses but doesn't improve, it's okay for you to go talk to the person and explain what's going on. The person will either reach out to your friend or point you to someone else that would be a better help.

A warning: sometimes (not always) people get angry when someone tries to get them help. In most cases, once the person is feeling better, he/she will be very glad for the help and no longer be angry.

I think your friend is lucky to have you as a friend. While you can't solve her problems, you're being supportive and helping her help herself. Not everyone can do that.
Harris
says:
March, 21 2018 at 6:43 pm
hi Tanya.
I'm 19 and a student.
Currently i have this one friend. To me, he's a very good company. both of us met about 2 months ago. but actually we were in the same kindergarten years ago. we seemed to be very closed to each other. we had dinner together everyday, tried every new foods in our college, walked to class together (even though we're not in the same class and program
) and do almost everything together. Im very grateful to have a friend like him.

however, lately i realised that he's distancing himself from me. we do have dinner together, participate volunteering works together. but we dont talk much like we used to. i dont like that.

so, what happened was, last night, i asked him what's wrong?
He said that i am too clingy that everywhere i go, i always wanted him to be with me and he couldnt bear with it anymore.
i admit that i am a person like that. some people like it and some dont. dont they? so, i apologised and told him that i'll fix that. it was that actually i dont quite understand him, since we've just knew each other.

i think i've got influenced by the movies i watched where two best friends usually do things together, go everywhere together, go on a travel together, understand each other etc.

so, i expected him to do the mentioned things above. my bad.

and the conversation continued..

i told him that there's one thing that i couldnt control when i'm with him or with my other closed friends. that's Overthinking.

i used to think lots of unnecessary thoughts. like you said above, about things that i shouldve said, done and what not. but sometimes some thoughts like how my friends feel about me do came across my mind. However, i knew that these thoughts are just nothing. they're just there. so, i ignored them. i made myself busy.

but the longer i tried to ignore them, the more that i got hurt. what do i do? i really hope that you can help me, tanya.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 22 2018 at 10:37 am
Hi Harris,
Relationships, whether they're friendships, romantic relationships, and even family relationships, are so hard! It seems like the longer we know someone, the harder they become. A lot of it has to do with the thoughts you described. You made an excellent point about movies. This is something that happens a lot. We (and I say "we" because I've done it and still do it until I catch myself) tend to interpret movies and TV as representations of reality. They seem real, after all. And they often portray the ideal relationships that people want. What we forget is that they're scripted. The people say what they say and do what they do because they have lines and directions provided. (Look at how the real people, the celebrities who play the characters, behave in real life. There's evidence of non-scripted behavior!).

What has happened is that movies and TV have warped our expectations. And when things don't go like they do on screen, we question what's "wrong" and overthink to try to get things back to how we think they should be. Unrealistic expectations, no matter where they come from, cause a great deal of heartache, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and more. Something that is helpful for many people (myself included) is to take an honest look at our expectations. Even write them out. What is your vision of a great friendship? Then get honest with yourself. How many of your qualities fit in the real world? How would you define a good relationship with more realistic, unscripted, undirected, features? Then, what actions do you need to take to override your unrealistic expectations and work toward the realistic ones? Sometimes it works to observe others and talk to people you trust about their relationships.

I honestly say kudos to you for your insight about movies. You've got it! Now run with it (but know that it's a process that takes time.)
Andrea
says:
March, 20 2018 at 7:36 pm
Hello, I’m a mother to a 15 yr old teen. For the past three months he has been experiencing a lot of anxiety he also over think everything and questions everything. He questions the existence of life on a daily basis he question coincidences he questions absolutely everything and he feels like he needs the answer to everything. He is currently seeing a therapist. But he feels is not enough and as the days go by it gets bigger and a new though pops up. I can’t imagine how exhibe must feel. My husband and u are very patient with him but sometimes we don’t even know what to do and what to say anymore it exhausting for us too. We don’t know what to do. Please advise what techniques we as parent can do to help him out.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 21 2018 at 12:50 pm
Hi Andrea,
As if the teen years weren't challenging enough for teens and parents! Anxiety can grip teens, and given their stage of development and unique way their brain thinks and processes, can make it grow easily and quickly. I might muddle everything by suggesting things that might contradict the work your son is doing with his therapist (there are so many approaches to anxiety, but trying too many at one time could increase anxiety). I do have a resource to share with you. It's a book called Helping Your Anxious Teen: Positive Parenting Strategies to Help Your Teen Beat Anxiety, Stress, and Worry by Dr. Sheila Achar Josephs. Dr. Josephs specializes in anxiety in teens and helping parents help teens. The book is available on Amazon, but it might be available at your local library, too. The book contains practical, helpful strategies. Your son is very lucky, by the way. Sadly, not every parent is patient, and not every parent will take their child/teen to see a therapist. It might not seem like these are big things, but they are huge. Even if you haven't seen results, in being so caring and supportive, you are having a very positive, helpful effect on your son.
Dave Mack
says:
March, 15 2018 at 8:02 pm
Hi Tanya, I’m a 35 year old man and in February 2017 until October 2017 I had a large chalazion on my left eye which really affected my self confidence. I stayed strong and tried to not let it get me down. Then November 2017 I start developing this forehead rash, which has also affected my self confidence just a month after feeling better about myself. This is an ongoing issue, I’ve tried creams from the doctor but no such joy as of yet. To top things off I now have an issue with my prostate. Doctor said it wasn’t cancer, it’s prostatitis. I’m in a lot of pain and I’m also suffering with erectile issues. I broke down last week. I haven’t cried since I was young. It’s all getting on top of me. I’m trying to not let it affect my wife and kids too much but I’m constantly thinking about ‘what if’. What if This forehead rash never goes, what if this prostate problem remains after the anitbiotics, what if I can’t have sex anymore. I’m so down, I can’t get to sleep, then when I do, I always wake up after a few hours. How can I get stop overthinking and worrying?

Thanks for your time

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 16 2018 at 6:29 pm
Hi Dave,
I'm so sorry to read of all of these things you have been dealing with, one right after the other. Your reaction is very normal. This article from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has information about anxiety that relates to health, and it talks about cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). That is a treatment approach that helps people change their thoughts about themselves and things in their life: https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/health-anxiety

Have you thought of what you would say to your wife or kids if they were going through what you are? What things would you tell them? How would you truthfully encourage them? If they were being hard on themselves, how would you handle it? If you give time and thought to these questions (and other concepts similar to them), you could turn the tables and say those things to yourself. Treat yourself with the same compassion as you would your family.

Finally, despite your pain (actually, because of it), find ways to bring joy into your life when movement is probably limited right now. Reading, playing games with your family, working on a model, etc. -- engage in something that helps you take your mind off of the physical and emotional pain. Whatever you do, hang in there.
Dave Mack
says:
March, 23 2018 at 4:12 am
Thank you Tanya. I read your message a few days back and I have to say I’ve made an improvement. I think you saying “what would you say to your wife and kids if they were going through what you are” hit home the most. Very kind of you to respond to people’s messages on here. Thank you again.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 23 2018 at 9:33 am
Hi Dave,
I'm very happy to hear this. Keep going in the direction you are taking yourself. It's always my pleasure to respond because we're all in this thing called life together. :)
Betty
says:
March, 11 2018 at 12:02 pm
Hello. I'm 18 years old and currently I'm still waiting for my result. These days i keep thinking and worried so much about my result because I'm afraid that I might be failed. If I failed then I will not get any chances to continue my studies to any University. Plus, I'm so worried that I might be dissapointed my parents as well. So last night, suddenly i was thinking about my result so I cried because I was so worried about it. And I try to crying but can't then I try to calm myself but still my brain keep thinking and worried about it so I just let myself to cry non stop because I feel like it will be more better if I let everything goes like that way. But suddenly I feel so lonely and I really need someone to talk with but I can't. Whenever someone asked me about my problems I litteraly just can't explain it because I feel like it's so hard me too. I don't know what to say but it's hurt me so bad when i cried because thinking of something and worried about it. This is not my first time having this kind of problems. I've been through a lot but still I remind okay because I don't want make things become worse but when suddenly I think it back, I'll started to crying non stop until I calm down myself. So, am I suffer of depression or anxiety? If so, tell me what should I do because I'm so confused. :') and sorry about my grammar, I'm so bad with my English

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 16 2018 at 6:09 pm
Hi Betty,
I don't think your English is bad at all. It's very good, actually. I understand exactly what you said. In this setting, it could be harmful to you if I tried to tell you that you have depression or anxiety. That would not be helpful. I will just observe that what you shared does have elements of anxiety, especially performance anxiety, perfectionism, and a lot of pressure. A big part of this type of anxiety is the belief that you must be "good enough" to pursue a certain major/program in school, job, career, etc. It can feel as though there are no options. Then the thought of disappointing parents makes things even worse. Sorting this out with someone could be very helpful. It could be a mental health professional, or a trusted relative, teacher, spiritual leader, parent, etc. There are so many paths. There are good options for you no matter what that result is, even if it's not the one you want (and who knows -- it could be what you want!). But it's hard to see those options on your own when you're so close. If you can talk with someone regularly and talk about your hopes, dreams, goals, visions for your future life and how to get going in the direction you want to go. If you feel that things aren't getting better or are getting worse, a visit to your doctor or a therapist might be very helpful, too. Right now, school and exams are huge. They won't always be. And they are a part of what you need for your next step, but other things are important, too. Opening up to someone you trust might go a long way in reducing your anxiety.
Cat
says:
April, 14 2018 at 9:36 am
Hi :) I'm 17 years old and I don't know what to do anymore. I'm constantly worrying and stressing over everything and I over think almost every interaction I have with people and how they act around me. I have talked to one of my teachers about it but I have rlly low self esteem and confidence and I feel like she hates me and that I'm annoying her (even though she told me I could speak to her anytime) so I regret talking to her. I have rlly bad body images issues too and I'm usually really quiet because I don't feel good enough or that anyone likes me all that much. Recently I've been feeling constantly on edge and School and tests stress me out sometimes to the point of tears. I get angry with myself if I don't do as good as other people and im constantly beating myself up in my head. I know this is wrong but I don't know what to do. I don't feel good enough and i always overthink everything and stress over something as stupid as not saying hi to someone when I pass them and thinking they think I'm horrible. I feel like everyone is fed up with me. The thing is im okay when I'm with people I'm close to or if I'm distracted. I'm just fed up of constantly panicking over what other people call 'stupid things'. My parents don't really see it so they tell me that 'every teenager is stressed' and that's it not big deal and I think they were a bit upset with me when they found out I talked to a teacher. Is it a big deal? I don't know what to do I've felt like this for a long time. Do you think I might have anxiety?
Estelle Pace
says:
March, 11 2018 at 9:00 am
Hi,

I’m a 26 year old and I was moving in my new house with my boyfriend. I really was looking forward for this change but all of a sudden anxiety kicked in. I fear tk move and until my anxiety gets better I am not willing to move. It’s been over a month worrying and fearing that this anxiety wont leave me in peace. I am always asking myself why I suddenly changed my mind from moving. I am in the cycle that I am anxious about my anxiety.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 16 2018 at 5:51 pm
Hi Estelle,
Anxiety can be a trap and a vicious circle -- you comment about the cycle of being anxious about your anxiety captures this well! I'm wondering if you've heard of adjustment disorder. It's a (usually) temporary condition caused by change like a move. Even positive change can lead to adjustment disorder. Anxiety is very much a part of it. This article has some information: https://www.healthyplace.com/ptsd-and-stress-disorders/adjustment-disorder/adjustment-disorder-with-anxiety/ If you think it sounds like it might be a possibility, you can talk to your doctor or mental health professional like a therapist. You can deal with both adjustment and anxiety and be able to move into your new house with your boyfriend.
Mamba
says:
March, 8 2018 at 6:38 pm
Hi, i've suffered with anxiety for many years. last year for a second time i was prescribed citalopram (celexa) and had the dose increased. 6 months on i'm feeling a whole lot better, life feels less stressful, i have more energy and most of the negative thoughts don't bother me any more.

My biggest problem at the moment is the chatter/overthinking which has gotten better since the medication but i'm still having a problem switching off to relax. my head just keeps chatting, checking to see if i'm relaxed or "in the moment" it's especially bad when i try to relax and watch films or tv. i'm a big big film fan and its important for me to be able to get lost in a film and relax. i just get constant questioning and checking but also my head will also at times repeat words being spoken on the screen or start of thinking what i'd say to other people about the film or tv.

Everyone tells me it's classic anxiety and it will fade over time but i keep thinking "what if it's something else" "this will never go"

I just can't seem to get out of this cycle.

Thanks for any help

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 9 2018 at 2:52 pm
Hi Mamba,
It sounds like this mental chatter is starting to really disrupt your life -- when it invades things that used to bring you peace and happiness, it definitely is natural to be frustrated and want to do something. Sometimes well-meaning people want to reassure others, like those that are telling you it's classic anxiety. If your instincts are telling you that it could be something different, follow those instincts. You seem very self-aware. That awareness is a strength you can use to move forward. You might want to start by consulting your doctor. Even though you're having success with citalopram, there's a chance that minor dosage adjustments need to be made. Also, working with a therapist might be very helpful, especially since the medication has been working but this issue is lingering. Your doctor, a therapist, or both can help you get yourself out of the cycle.
Mamba
says:
March, 10 2018 at 1:49 pm
does it sound like anxiety to you?

I get a lot of rehearsing conversations, some i'll probably never have

I don't really want to have any changes to my medication as the last 2 or 3 months are the best i've felt for a few years.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Mamba
says:
March, 10 2018 at 1:50 pm
the above comment is me i just forgot which email address i used

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 16 2018 at 5:43 pm
Hi Mamba,
The chatter, rehearsing, etc. do sound like they could be anxiety. Anxiety and thoughts like this so often go hand-in-hand. The nature of the thoughts vary depending on the type of anxiety you are experiencing. Also, thoughts like this can be part of other things, too, such as OCD. I would never try to diagnose you! I do think that talking with your doctor or mental health professional would help you find answers -- and the right treatment.
Alex
says:
March, 8 2018 at 2:30 pm
Hi,
I’m 14 years old and honestly worry about everything way too much. I’m in high school and whenever I have a test or assessment coming up i always way overthink it. Last time in a maths exam I knew I got 1 question wrong and literally cried for hours because I though that having 1 Mark taken off my test would lead me to having no job, no future etc. After I realised I was so silly and so annoyed at myself for getting so upset about it. And recently I’ve been feeling physically sick every time I come home because i am worried about a friend who doesn’t eat all that much but the truth is really he’s fine. I really need advice on this it’s stressing me out so much and I know this is the age that these kinds of things start to take over you. Please help me with any advice you have

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 9 2018 at 3:33 pm
Hi Alex,
Anyone who says that teens don't have stress like adults do either forgot what it was like to be in high school, isn't acknowledging the way the world has become, or both! Just from the little bit that you wrote, I think you are someone who is pretty driven and who is very caring and compassionate. Those are great qualities, strengths that you will use to get you far. These are also things that can make you more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and other things that take a toll on mental health and wellbeing. Two things you might want to try (there are more than two things you can do, of course) will probably seem like they conflict at first.

One: Think about your sense of purpose and a vision for what you want your life to be like. BUT, and this is a biggie, don't feel that you are tying yourself to this. This is supposed to reduce stress rather than increase it. You are 14 and are beginning to explore what you want to do as an adult. The key word is explore. The purpose of this is to be grounding. With a small beginning of a vision and a plan, you can sort out what you need to go in that general direction. Maths is an important subject, and it's good to do well. But when you look at your general vision, you can see that missing one point won't destroy your chances at anything. Look at the requirements for the jobs you'd like. Even if a high grade is important, it's probably not necessary to score 100% on everything all the time. (It's not necessary because it's not possible!).

2: Let your vision just be there. You can make adjustments to it any time you want to, and you can go to it to remind yourself of what you realistically need to do, but other than that, it doesn't need to (and shouldn't) be the main focus of your daily life. Make it a habit to take slow deep breaths throughout the day because that helps calm the brain and body. Pay attention to what is going on right now, in the moment you're in. When you notice yourself feeling sick because you're worried about your friend, check in with him. See how he's doing. When you're in the moment, you can either respond to a problem that you notice (as opposed to a worry in your head), or you can dismiss a worry because you can see evidence that the worry isn't based on something real happening right now. This is known as mindfulness. If you're interested, check out www.mindfulnessforteens.com. This is a great resource for dealing with stress and anxiety.

The anxiety and worry you are experiencing won't last. You can do things to overcome them.
Lisa
says:
March, 6 2018 at 1:05 pm
My best friend since high school (we are in our 40s), is dealing with having to put her Father's illness. He is in a great facility now, and has ample funds to pay for it, but it was certainly stressful for awhile for her. She has not worked outside of the home in years, but she is a great Mom to three young kids, and while she was always a worrier, it was never all that bad. Since this happened she has developed crippling anxiety and I do not know how to help her. She texts me incessantly with wild scenarios and what ifs. If everything is fine (which it is now) she actually looks for things that could go wrong. I almost feel like she is only comfortable if she is worrying! And none of these things are realistically ever going to happen, and if by some wild chance they did, they are beyond her control. She worries so much it is exhausting for me and for her, and she is struggling to care for her kids. She is very negative like "Oh my kids are going to hate me, and I am going to lose my husband," because she is taking time to help her Dad. She is constantly worried about being sued, having to pay for her Father, etc. I am a lawyer, and I went through this with my own Father, but nothing I can say can reassure her. To make matters worse, I am the other extreme. I think worry is a waste of time, and am very much the type of person that says if it happens it happens. She is taking an anti anxiety drug that she was put on recently, but clearly it is not working. This has been going on daily for four months. Nothing I say helps her. I have tried just saying it will be okay, just letting her talk, rationalizing with her, but NOTHING works. I am starting to go a bit insane myself. She is like a broken record over and over the same thing. How can I help her? Thanks

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 9 2018 at 3:47 pm
Hi Lisa,
It sounds like you have been a wonderful friend. Listening, being available, reassuring, sharing your professional and personal knowledge are all the "right" things to do. (I typically try to avoid such value-laden words like "right" and "wrong," but in this case the things you've been doing are actions that have been shown to be supportive. Therefore, I'll use "right.")

Sometimes people are resistant to support. It may be that she doesn't realize that she's resisting, and it may be that her worries are so intense that they're all-consuming. Talking about them like this might be the only way she has to deal with them. That doesn't mean that you have to keep doing what you've been doing. That won't help either one of you.

It's okay to point out that you think that she needs professional help, either returning to her doctor about medication, seeing a therapist, or both. Sometimes being direct yet kind about it is the best thing. It can be effective to meet with her in person and give her a list of resources in the community (you can often find them in medical offices, community centers, libraries, and mental health resources offices like NAMI or DBSA). Share your concerns with her. Offering to accompany her to an appointment might be good, but only if it works for you and you think she would appreciate the offer. It's okay, too, to tell her that you will be there for her as a friend, but that you can't be her therapist. Situations like these aren't unusual. The "tough love" approach is sometimes the best thing to do. Even if your friend gets mad, odds are that she won't stay mad and will be glad that you led her to professional help. You're clearly a very good friend.
thea balane
says:
March, 4 2018 at 11:43 pm
Hello... I do have a questions...
If I'm overthinking like my girlfriend is mad at me because I think I do something wrong even I didn't do anything.
I also feel going nuts if my girlfriend didn't text me wholeday.
I also think that I'm not good enough for her and all the negative is already in my mind.
I encounter this kind of issues when I was 14yrs old. I can't breath, heart racing, sweating if I'm doing a reporting, reciting. Is this a anxiety??? Went don't have that here in the Philippines

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 5 2018 at 11:24 am
Hi Thea,
The physical symptoms you are having sound very much like an anxiety attack or panic attack. The difference between them is that anxiety attacks happen because of fear or excessive worry about something while panic attacks happen "out of the blue" and relate to the fear of having another panic attack.

Anxiety can get in the way of relationships. It can often be helpful to work with a therapist about the relationship anxiety you describe. If you don't have access to mental health professionals, there are services available online, such as betterhelp.com and talkspace.com. They can help you with your thoughts and feelings in your relationship.
Nikki
says:
March, 3 2018 at 11:33 pm
Hello, I’ve been trying to overcame this anxiety for about over a month now. I have had it in the past and it was much, much worse. I moved to a new state and got married all in a matter of three months. My physical well being has been awful which took a toll on my mental state. Everyone I reach out to says I should seek help, I wake up everyday thinking it’s going to be a struggle. What should I do? Helllp!

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