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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, July 19 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.

Grace
says:
July, 11 2019 at 12:41 pm
I have suffered with anxiety, depression and OVD since I was around 5 years old. I repeatedly write out to do lists as it gives me comfort but at the same time makes me feel tired and mentally unwell. I am obsessed with things being clean and neat as I like to get everything out of my head. I constantly feel drained and tired and most days very sad. Recently I have been experiencing anger that comes within seconds and then sadness. Sometimes I can feel positive but this can change drastically. I struggle in social settings and find it hard day to do. I am terrified and obsessed with finances even though it makes me miserable. I repeatedly count numbers in my head until I feel physically ill with headaches. I have ticks in my muscles. I am unable to cope with change and this can make me extremely upset and unpredictable. I prefer routine which is stressful for my partner. I am concerned about my mental health as my father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and shows many signs of schizophrenia. I am aware mental health runs in the family. My GP has only ever prescribed me antidepressants which did not help for me. I have managed my symptoms by taking tranquilliser drugs which does help my mood but causes financial problems for me due to the costs of taking illegal substances. I would be grateful for any advice/help. Thankyou.
TeNaya
says:
July, 10 2019 at 10:45 pm
Hi. I overthink about everything from very little stuff to big stuff over and over again until I try to talk to someone about it or I focus on something else. I feel like no one understands me not even my mom which is the main person I talk to because I don’t have any close friends. I feel lonely most of the time and sad and irritated because of it. My mom sometimes think I’m being over dramatic and yes I have family but I feel like I don’t have that one person I can tell everything too and someone who cares about me and likes to talk to me outside of school. Sometimes I even cry about this. I know I might be getting off topic but I feel like I have no one to talk to about this because no one understands me. I appear fine most of the time but really I’m not. With the friends I thought cared about me I am no longer friends with or we don’t even hang out. I get attached to people so easily it’s crazy. I feel invisible and left out most of the time. And when I do try to get out there it never works out. Please give me advice or something.
July, 12 2019 at 2:02 pm
Hi TeNaya,
I'm sorry about what you're going through. While I'm not in a position to diagnose you (or others), I do recognize elements of depression in what you wrote. Depression can be a nasty circle. It can make it hard to successfully reach out and form friendships, but the loneliness that results from your efforts not working can make depression worse. This happens even when someone doesn't have clinical depression (which is why I can't say with certainly if you are experiencing depression). Have you talked to your mom about seeing a therapist/counselor? They can help you sort things out and identify ways to reconnect with people. You can begin your journey to develop meaningful friendships even before seeing a counselor. A good way to start is to get more specific in what you want. What does "friendship" mean to you? What are you looking for in a friend? What interests do you have that would be fun to do with a like-minded-friend? Reflecting on your values, desires, and the meaning of friendship will help you know where to look. Then, work on developing just one friendship. Of course you can expand if you like bigger friendship groups, but bigger groups can be tough to jump into. Pay attention to individual people. Notice them in your classes. Develop a hobby that gets you out among people with your interests (maybe take painting classes, find a book club, join a sports team, etc.). Begin to talk to someone in the class (etc.) that seems nice. You absolutely have what it takes to break out of this overthinking pattern, possible depression, etc. It's evident in your comment. You know what is bothering you the most, and you are seeking ways to do something about it. You have motivation and drive, two very positive qualities -- qualities that make a good friend.
Jamese lofton
says:
July, 6 2019 at 11:48 am
Hey I’ve Been Battling With anxiety Since March of 2019 and Has been a Long road ever since My Great Grandmother Passed In February And Has been hard ever since , IVe Been To Hospitals and Dr Apts and everyone tells me I’m fine and nothing is wrong with me i just need to calm down it was to the point i couldn’t drive and had somebody to drive for me or i couldn’t be alone by myself this stopped me from working .i started taking Cbd oil But didn’t really do nothing for me ,i currently see a therapist he helps me my psychiatrist put me on medication but i was only taking 1 Due to the bad side effects on the other medicine but i think I’m going to completely stop the medicine because it’s doing something to my brain and making me think I’m crazy , I Pray a lot and mediate , My Son is my motivation and i feel safe when I’m around my Boyfriend but idk what to do anymore because I’m always looking for answers and asking people for help. please Help.
July, 7 2019 at 3:55 pm
Hi Jamese,
I'm sorry to read of your struggles with anxiety. Loss can trigger anxiety, so addressing the loss of your great grandmother will help lower your anxiety. Working with a therapist can be very helpful. Continuing to work with yours could be a good idea if you feel a positive connection with him and feel you are making progress. You and your therapist can process your loss and develop ways to use the motivation you get from your son as well as how to expand the feeling of safety beyond just your boyfriend.

Psychiatrists typically prescribe medication more than therapy. If you aren't happy with your medication, tell him/her that you want to stop. Patients have the right to reject medication. It can be dangerous to stop medication on your own, so it's wise to do so under the guidance of your psychiatrist or another doctor.

Be patient with yourself through the process of reducing anxiety. It's a gradual process, but one that is steady and forward-moving.
Ivan
says:
June, 29 2019 at 2:23 am
This is a very interesting way of helping with it. I've had anxiety my whole life, but growing up I never knew what it was, or how to deal with it. Because of that, I always felt alone, which might seem sad and depressing but I've learned to accept it. I have a social life now, but always love some me time. I've learned to control anxiety and most of the time I'm calm. But at night is when my brains just decides to go parabolic and I would be laying in bed until 4 am. Anxiety isn't my only demon. Insecurity was another big one, which led to really low self-esteem. I wish I could explain my whole story but long story short, I'm happy, I'm always calm, I meditate, exercise and socialize almost every day. I've never gone to a doctor or taken any medication, because i used to think that they would say that I'm just shy and i just need to socialize more, and for some reason I thought medication wouldn't do anything. It's funny that this article is about overthinking, and recently I've been writing my thoughts down to see if that would help me get sleepy, but I've been writing notes for an hour and now I'm writing here lol. Overthinking is the one thing I haven't been able to take control of and it's what's driving me to write this. The only thing that I've tried to help it was THC. I've never wanted to get high just to get high, which is why I never tried it since a couple months ago. It made me feel like I was normal and my motivation was unhinged and I could finally work on my goals at 100%. It honestly made me cry because I never felt so relieved of constant thoughts racing through my head. But unfortunately THC isn't legal where I live and I'm thinking of seeing a doctor. I wrote this just so I could get it off my mind so i could delete it right after and hopefully I could sleep, but my mind is still going but I feel like I won't stop writing for another hour so I'm just going to end it here. I'm 19, almost 20 by the way.
June, 30 2019 at 6:27 pm
Hi Ivan,
It sounds like you have done really well with so many aspects of anxiety/life. That takes determination and strength. Having that overthinking experience hang on is really common--unfortunately. I find myself experiencing it, too. Oddly, it sometimes becomes easier to deal with by accepting it. This doesn't mean giving up or giving in, and it doesn't mean accepting the content of your thoughts. It means acknowledging that you're overthinking and letting the thoughts be there rather than fighting them. When we (and I say "we" because a lot of people are in this boat, including me) can stop fighting, it's easier to turn attention away from the thoughts. Using mindfulness allows us to pay attention instead to what is going on around us: sights, smells, physical sensations, sounds). When you notice your mind overthinking, return to the moment. This helps day and night -- at night it can help you fall asleep. The more you train your brain to do this, the easier and more effective it will become. Regarding THC, you could talk to your doctor and tell him/her about your experience. They might be able to recommend something that mimics the effects of THC (I'm not sure if that exists, but your doctor might have something in mind.) Also, what else was going on when you used it? Maybe it was the circumstances that contributed to your positive experience. Perhaps doing more of what you were doing will help. Keep doing all of the things you've been doing to create happiness and your other positive experiences, and know that you don't have to be bothered by overthinking forever.
Jasmine
says:
June, 19 2019 at 3:19 am
Hi Tanya,
3 weeks ago I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and what made me reach out to my gp was that I had a big panic attack where I felt I was trapped inside my own body and now that I am on meds I feel more calm and don’t panic but I can’t stop thinking about how my body works and how I’m in this flesh and can’t come out if I wanted to. I know it sounds crazy and I am seeing a therapist soon but just wanted to know why is this happening and is this because of the anxiety or am I gonna end up in a mental hospital because I freak out about something that I shouldn’t and can’t stop thinking about 😢
June, 19 2019 at 11:07 am
Hi Jasmine,
Your experience doesn't sound crazy! Working with a therapist will most likely be very helpful (give it time, though, because therapy is a process of growth and overcoming rather than a quick fix). Usually, going to a hospital is a decision that is made after you have tried many different things or are in danger of harming yourself or others. Panic has many effects that can seem strange and anxiety-provoking to the person experiencing them. It seems like there could be a connection between how you felt during the panic attack (a very normal feeling) and the lingering thoughts you're having. It could relate to feeling trapped in an aspect of your life or be unrelated to that. One of the benefits of working with a therapist is exploring what's happening. Perhaps the biggest benefit is figuring out what you want to do about it and making plans and goals for moving forward. This isn't something you'll be stuck with forever. You've already begun to take steps (deciding to see a therapist, reading articles or other information, questioning what's happening, and deciding that you want it to stop). Beginning the process can be the most difficult part. Now you can continue the process of healing.
Ryan Donovan
says:
June, 10 2019 at 7:45 pm
Hi Tanya,

I recently left a job where I was experiencing great anxiety and extreme exposure to the human body / surgeries in an OR setting. I was on a plane to a work function and had a panic attack and was I. California for two weeks and experienced great anxiety. This took place in November, I left the job about two months ago. Ever since the panic attack I have experienced doses of anxiety where thoughts are always popping up and running through my head and conversations just play out in my head about weird stuff. A lot of it is about the world, meaning of life, and questions about the makeup of the human body and how it works and makes us think / function on a daily basis. I know this is very strange and I don’t know if this is normal or if there is something wrong with me. I’ve thought about seeing a neurologist to see if this is something wrong about my brain. Is there something wrong with me or is the mind racing and conversations playing out in my head a normal thing. I thought about it and don’t remember this kind of thing happening to me before ever in my life. I have been thinking on a deeper level than I have ever before. Anything would be helpful. Thanks.
June, 11 2019 at 11:47 am
Hi Ryan,

There is definitely nothing wrong with you -- other than the fact that your anxiety is causing such angst. But that's not "wrong" as in a defect. It is life limiting and likely very annoying/worrisome for you. To me, it sounds a lot like existential anxiety, which is anxiety about the very fact that you exist and sometimes even that life itself exists. The article below might provide some insights, and if it resonates with you, you could explore this further. (Viktor Frankl and Rollo May wrote much on this topic when they were alive, and Frankl started logotherapy, which involves exploring personal meaning. Searching "logotherapy" or "logotherapy frankl" or "viktor frankl institute of logotherapy" will point you to a host of articles and information.) You might want to begin by reading this article: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/04/existential-anxiety-stress-and-meaning-making-in-your-life.

You might consider talking to a therapist in person or online using sites like talkspace.com or betterhelp.com (HealthyPlace isn't connected to these or endorse them. I'm just sharing them as an option because they're reputable.) Even if you don't feel that existential anxiety applies, you'll be able to talk to professionals about what's going on and how to decrease it and increase what you want. Regarding a neurologist, I certainly can't give medical advice. Neurologists typically address physical problems such as unexplained headaches, balance problems, numbness and tingling, and other issues. You might want to go to your regular doctor for a check-up because sometimes anxiety is caused by various illnesses or health conditions. If your doctor thinks it's necessary, he or she will recommend a neurologist or other relevant specialist. Given the nature and extent of your anxiety, it is absolutely reasonable to get it checked out medically.

Stick with your pursuit of wellbeing. There are no quick fixes, but it's a process that can make a positive difference.
Ryan
says:
June, 12 2019 at 3:49 pm
Tanya,

Does this sound like something very serious? Should I be worried or is this something normal that people go through?

- Ryan
June, 12 2019 at 4:48 pm
Hi Ryan,

Everyone experiences a degree of existential anxiety--it's part of the human experience. While it isn't always something to worry about, when it becomes bothersome and disruptive, seeking help for it can be a good idea. In most cases, therapists don't specialize in existential anxiety, but they're still equipped to help you through your limiting thoughts. You can separate yourself from all of these thoughts and gain freedom and the ability to enjoy your life.
dfghj
says:
June, 9 2019 at 6:32 pm
hi, i'm 12 and for the past six months or so ive been having a really hard time going to sleep and going through everyday things. its really hard to explain but i'm basically staring up at the ceiling for hours at a time just thinking about the day and what i could have done differently. my friends say they have noticed a severe difference in my behavior lately, claiming me to look really sad and "dead inside". the worst thing is probably the inability to sleep, it really messes up my whole day and i really don't know what to do about it. i get mad at myself for not saying or doing something i think i should have and then mentally beat myself up for overthinking everything. i dont want to confront my friends about it because im afraid they will think that my overthinking is just me being overly sensitive. my overthinking and anxiety have led me to believe that my friends actually hate me (i have a past related to the topic). i know a girl my age having this sort of problem will just make it seem like i am overthinking things and my life should be all sunshine and rainbows but i do know a lot of people just in my class alone who might need professional help but are to afraid to say it or cant. i would really appreciate your help, i don't know what to do.
June, 10 2019 at 1:45 pm
Hi there!

Being a teenager (or almost one) isn't all sunshine and rainbows, and it's frustrating when adults claim that it is, thus dismissing real problems. Of course there are sunshine and rainbows (when it feels like there's none of that, you can take steps to turn things around, like you're doing now), and of course there are times that it's cloudy. As you've already noticed, sleep is huge. Lack of sleep can make it hard to feel well and function well. This article deals with anxiety and sleep, and you might find some useful tips for quieting your mind and getting to sleep: https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/anxiety/anxiety-and-insomnia-don-t-let-anxiety-keep-you-awake. One caution: These aren't quick fixes. It takes time to train your mind to be still. With patience and persistence, you'll find that they work.

If kids in middle school and high school were willing to admit it, most would likely say that they think friends hate them. This can be part of social anxiety, and/or it can be related to your age. A lot of things happen in adolescence, including the desire for independence and developing your own unique sense of self -- and balancing that with the need to fit in and have friends. These are both part of adolescence, but they clash with each other. As you discover who you are and who you want to be, it can cause worries about how other people will react and think, and worries that your friends will hate you. When it feels like they hate you for who you are, it can really sting. It also feels like you're the only one, but it is like this for truly everyone whether they want to talk about it or not. Some (definitely not all) kids are so uncomfortable with this process that they try to create problems for others, even their friends. They think that as long as negative attention is focused on someone else, they will be secure. This usually makes them pretty miserable. Sometimes having this perspective can help you get through things will less anxiety. Putting things in perspective can help a lot. (By the way, I've been a high school teacher, school counselor, I have a daughter just out of the teen years and a son whose a teenager now, and I of course went through adolescence myself. I'm only telling you this so you know that this stuff is real. I'm not brushing off you or your thoughts.) You can go to Amazon or other bookstores or to your library and search "Anxiety in Teenagers" (or similar). There are many helpful books. I searched for some to recommend, but they are all so different and are written for different personalities. They're all good, though. You could talk to your school librarian to see if he/she could start a mental health section. That would be a way for you and the people you know to be able to get some information. Just a thought.

Keep working on sleep. You're wise about that being a big cause of what you're experiencing. And bravely discover who you are (it's a lifetime process, but it's huge right now). You just might find that there are new friends similar to you that you want to hang out with. That's another thing -- friend groups change a lot, and that's normal. Make sunshine and rainbows, and allow the clouds to drift through, too. :)


Isaiah
says:
June, 3 2019 at 11:21 pm
I have had a very tough life. My mom had me when she was 16. After about a year we moved to Phoenix Arizona everything was going great until my dad ( who was extremely bipolar) decided he didn't need his medication to be happy. About a week later he broke his ankle and was put on hydros ( hydrocodone). My dad had suffered with addiction his whole life but had been clean 7 years before this. It got so bad my mom had to kick him out of the house where he died from an overdose 2 weeks later. We then roughly two months later moved back to our home town with all of my family. My mom about a month later starts dating this guy who had been a close friend of my dad's, Nick. Nick (when I first met him) was this really funny, glowing guy who always made me laugh. He then moved into the house not shortly after that and revealed his true colors. For 5 years I was emotionally and physically abused. One day in my 6th grade Nick was coming down off of 100 mg of adderall and in a fit of rage completely beat the shit out of me and then sent me to school. When I got home I saw that I had a text from Nick saying we would finish the conversation we had started in the morning when he got home. At this point I immediately called my mom in a panic hoping she'd believe me and come home she then called the police and kicked him out of the house. After this happened I started to feel this feeling in my stomach that I was alone and that everyone hated me and I would feel like a was sinking. After about a year of this happening I was in the 8th grade and started hanging out with my best friend Noah all the time. We tried weed a few times and liked it and then started doing pills hardcore. Xanax, Percocet, adderall, hydros, anything that would temporarily numb the pain we did. Eventually I got caught and when my mom asked me why I did these things I told her the truth. I constantly have this feeling that I'm alone and I feel like I'm sinking into a pit of darkness and sadness and then i start to think about my future and how I could die alone without anyone there with me. smoking and pills are the only way to help me it feels like because when I'm not high or on pills I constantly feel like this and if this feeling doesn't go away soon I feel like I may make it stop.
June, 10 2019 at 1:09 pm
Hi Isaiah,
I'm glad you reached out. You have been dealing with a lot of heavy stuff and doing it without much support. It shows a lot of strength and determination to survive this. The symptoms you mention fit with abuse, having a parent with mental illness, and substance use (substance use is also an effect of what you're experiencing). You have options and don't need someone to call the police or social services on your behalf. You can talk to someone you trust at school, maybe a teacher, counselor, administrator, etc. When you tell them about the abuse, they are required to report it and start the process to help you. You can also confide in a coach or other activity leader, a religious leader, doctor, or any other adult. Also, you can act on your own behalf. You can contact your local social services, or you can contact the police department. If it's not an emergency (violence isn't happening at the moment), call the station number rather than 9-1-1. Say that you have been harmed in your home, explain the circumstances, and tell them you need help but aren't sure what to do.

Addressing your substance use would also be very helpful for you. You can start with your doctor or a public health clinic. Tell them your story so they know the context. I'm not sure if you'll face consequences because the drugs are illegal, but they'd be minor and would lead to help. You'd be directed to legal help if you need it (you might not).

You mentioned making all this stop. If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or ending your life, please chat with or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or 1-800-273-8255. They exist to help, and they often are able to point you to resources in your community. All of this doesn't have to keep hurting you and causing these symptoms.
Nik Marak
says:
May, 17 2019 at 2:11 am
Hi im Nik,
I am 17 yrs old and i feel like at this young young age i have bee over thinking too much for the past 2 or 3 years i feel like i dont enjoy my life at all most of the time i feel sad and lonely and left out which has resulted me to stay shut in my house most of the time though i feel i should hang out outdoors and hang out with my friends nost of the time i feel tired and i sleep most of the time i feel lazy kost of the time and i dont know but i feel like i have fear or phobia of future outcome sometime i think if i step out of the house what if something bad happens to me and i start overthinking and i dont know why but any decisions i choose i regrets it later on and i start thinking have i done something bad and i have something strange going on most of the time aftercooking or at night i use to make sure to lock my door and off the gas but something feeling comes that it makes me go and check several times i think that what if i didn't of the gas and it will get blast i use to have tbis strange feeling i dont have a good social communication with people i dont knwo why and i sometimes get scared of people because of strabge thinking and so on
I feel like ny life is worthless and im just a burden! How do i get out of it?
May, 21 2019 at 11:20 am
Hi Nik,
I'm sorry to read what you're experiencing. The three most important things to know right now is that you're life is not worthless, you are not a burden, and you can make it through this to enjoy life again. It's a process that takes patience, time, and the willingness to take action to get better (even when you don't feel up to it), but healing is possible. While I would never try to diagnose you, it does sound like you have symptoms of both anxiety and depression. These are tough to deal with, and when you're facing both they're even more difficult. Knowing this sometimes helps people feel a bit better because understanding that there isn't something wrong with you as a person (you're facing disorders that aren't part of who you are but are something you are experiencing). This article will give you some information about depression and anxiety: https://www.healthyplace.com/depression/anxiety-and-depression/relationship-between-depression-and-anxiety. Also, if you ever have overwhelming feelings that your life is worthless, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or 1-800-273-8255. You can chat online or on the phone. They listen, help you with information, and can even point you to local resources. They're there to help, and they don't think of anyone as a burden.
Oyinloye kafayat
says:
May, 15 2019 at 12:41 pm
Hi..I think my overthrinking has taken a turn for the worse..I feel like my thoughts are going to drive me crazy... sometimes when I am doing something or talking about something it is as if I have imagined people(friends) watching me or talking about me or when I get angry and things are not in my control..I imagine myself doing bad things to the person..I really don't know how to describe feelings well... please what can I do
May, 21 2019 at 11:32 am
Hi Oyinloye,
This must be a frustrating, frightening, and/or confusing experience. Help is available. The first step is to see your doctor or a psychiatrist. They can listen to what you're experiencing and help you determine what's happening. Hearing or sensing people watching you or talking about you can be a symptom of a psychotic disorder. Thoughts of harming someone can also be connected to a psychotic disorder or be intrusive thoughts that can be part of OCD. These are not diagnoses but observations. Psychotic disorders and OCD are complex with other aspects involved. A doctor can work to determine exactly what you're experiencing and then treat it. These experiences are manageable once a doctor knows what's happening. They're there to help.
Aymann
says:
April, 25 2019 at 8:01 pm
Hi Tanya, my name is Aymann and I’m 15 years old. My birthday is in october and then im gonna be 16. I came to pakistan recently for a change as my life back home was a distraction for my studies because my dad was mentally and physically abusive although he still always buys us whatever we want and thats all the love we recieve from him. Theres alot of drama in my life. I bite my lips till they bleed and I overthink so much that I start feeling physical problems due to it. Like these days I feel exhausted like im not in my own body. I cant get any sleep I sleep but when i wake up it doesnt feel like i have slept. I always feel a adrenaline or hyper type of feeling in my body and i cant really calm myself down. Ive tried to speak to people about it but my thoughts keep controlling my life. I came to pakistan and things got worse i always have chest pains and a racing heart. I had a panic attack and ever since the panic attack I cant really stop panicking. Then theres this girl who says i have depression and Im not quite sure if shes right but im overthinking that too. My biggest problem is my sleep. I cant sleep because i feel hyper and when i wake up from my sleep i also have that feeling not a feeling of freshness but hyperness. I overthink everything and dont know what to do about these thoughts 😕 i really need someone to help me because im scared this will take over my life i feel as if im going crazy. My hearing and focus is terrible now and i dont feel the same way i did before. 💕😕
May, 6 2019 at 3:50 pm
Hi Aymann,
What you are experiencing sounds awful. I'm sorry you're going through this. Seeing a mental health professional for an evaluation could be very helpful. You have much going on, and a psychiatrist or a psychologist could work with you to figure it out. He'll work to figure out what is wrong (the answers aren't always straightforward and obvious) and then to determine what treatment is best. If you have psychiatrists near you in Pakistan, that would be great. If not, there are online therapy services like betterhelp.com and talkspace.com that could be helpful. Sites like these provide mental health therapy and help you work through things like anxiety, depression, and stress. They also might be able to help you find a doctor in your area to talk to you and check all of your symptoms. At 15, your brain is still developing, which means that it's in great shape to make changes. This doesn't have to take over your life! The sooner you see a doctor, the faster you can treat this and get back to your life.
Shatana Gladden
says:
May, 9 2019 at 11:19 pm
I’m going through this right now and I had a panic attack not to long ago. I overthink so much to the point where it lasts for days and I’m not myself at all. Today is the first time I’ve cried in forever because I’m scared this is taking control of me. Everyone thinks I’m over reacting or just trying to get attention when I’m really hurting and going through things. It’s been getting worse and I’m scared.
May, 13 2019 at 11:16 am
Hi Shatana,
You are most definitely not over reacting or trying to get attention. Sometimes, people don't understand other people's experiences. The might have positive reasons for telling you this; for example, they might be very concerned but don't know what to do so they think that telling you this will help you stop feeling the way you do (obviously this isn't correct and is really unhelpful, but the intentions are good). And some people are just jerks and probably are insensitive with everyone. It takes practice, but you can learn to dismiss these comments but letting them go rather than keeping them with you.

It sounds like overthinking is starting to take over. You might consider seeing a mental health professional for evaluation. A psychologist would be particularly helpful because psychologists are experienced in testing and diagnosing as well as treating without medication. Counselors/therapists can do this, too, but their focus is on overcoming/learning to deal with problems. Psychiatrists focus on diagnosing and prescribing medication, which, depending on what is going on you may or may not need.) With overthinking the way you're describing it, a psychologist or therapist might use cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to help you. The article in the below link is on CBT for anxiety and panic can give you some basic information, and there is a wealth of online information online and in books/self-help books that you can begin to use right now as you wait for an appointment. Overthinking can take over, but you can take your life back. https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/articles/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-for-anxiety-and-panic
Johnny
says:
April, 5 2019 at 6:45 pm
As i get older everything just gets worse and worse. I saw a psychiatrist for years and during that time i was put on soo many different medications. Now when i see my regular doctor and i talk to them they always want to put me on medications that have already failed me because i've already taken everything they suggest. Then i get all anxious thinking that all of these medications have messed up my brain so bad that i am slowly losing my mind.
My anxiety rules my life. I worry about my health. I worry about world catastrophes. I worry about social situations. Even tv shows trigger it sometimes with their plot lines. Example: i was watching that show "The Good Place" and at the part where she realizes they are really in 'The Bad Place' my mind started racing thinking what if this world is actually hell and everything i know is just some sort of contruction to make us miserable. What if physics and all the laws of the universe aren't real things. I constantly feel like i am teeter tottering on the edge of losing my mind. I am ALWAYS on the brink of a panic attack. My life is absolutely miserable. I'm tearing up just typing this because i am so miserable. I don't know what to do. Sometimes i think about harming myself just to make the anxiety stop. I honestly don't know what to do.
April, 7 2019 at 8:26 pm
Hi Johnny,
I'm so sorry to read of your troubles with anxiety. As you describe, such extreme anxiety is almost crippling. Although it may not seem like it now, you can tame much of your anxiety and learn to enjoy your life despite some anxiety that stubbornly hangs on. With something this big, the most effective approach is to start small. What worry (or group of related worries) is bothering you the most right now? That is a good starting point. Cognitive-behavior therapy is helpful in the process of changing anxious thoughts. These articles offer insight into CBT: Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Anxiety and Panic (https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/articles/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-for-anxiety-and-panic); Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT to treat Anxiety (https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2017/08/using-cognitive-behavioral-therapy-to-treat-anxiety). Working with a therapist is often incredibly helpful in working through intense anxiety. PsychologyToday.com has a therapist finder to help you locate professionals in your area.

If you continue to feel like harming yourself, please contact that National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (suicidepreventionlifeline.org - 1-800-273-8255) They can help you through an immediate crisis as well as direct you to resources.

Do hang in there. You can tame this anxiety starting now. It's a process that takes patience and persistence, but it is possible for you to reduce anxiety.
heather
says:
April, 24 2019 at 12:37 pm
Would you be willing to give up tv? I decided to give up tv and all media that makes me feel bad (news) and replace it with inspirational blogs.
May, 6 2019 at 4:20 pm
Hi Heather,
I hope giving up tv and other media and replacing them with inspirational blogs is going well! I think your actions are brilliant and great for mental health. I think I would definitely give up tv and media sources for peace and wellbeing. You have the key -- replace what you're giving up with something else that you enjoy. Your mental health is more important than media and tv shows!
Immanuel Moore
says:
March, 11 2019 at 8:27 pm
Thank you so much Tanya J. Peterson , you are a life saver. Thanks to you now I know how to control my anxiety when it's activated. I don't wanna have to live through life with all these negative thoughts in my head, it feels sick and I'm only 18 years old looking for a carreer. I go to lively so im off to a good start.
March, 12 2019 at 1:19 am
Hello Immanuel,
How exciting to be beginning your journey by finding a career. Enjoy the process! It is anxiety-provoking sometimes, but you can absolutely keep the anxiety from taking control. Even when negative thoughts pop in, you can pop them back out! Keep going lively!
Ken
says:
February, 14 2019 at 7:48 am
I truly I am my own worst enemy. I recently lost my job and I have had a lot of time to think. Overthinking and ruminating on past happy thoughts/great emotions to try to feel that way again puts too much pressure on my mind which causes the viscous cycle of anxiety and the painful symptoms that come with it. I’m learning just to be myself again, to stop overthinking, although honestly I’m not there yet. All of this also affects my sleep which makes it worse. Thanks so much for your videos every time I Google my thoughts on anxiety you come up Tanya. ?❤️
February, 15 2019 at 5:38 pm
Hi Ken,
I probably keep showing up in your searches because I have so much to say about anxiety, and wellbeing, too. :D :D I've never been accused of saying or writing too little! I really do have much to share. I've had a lot of anxiety on my own, and I've also been able to move past it (for the most part -- anxiety is never completely gone, and that's okay as some anxiety is healthy). You're not alone in this, but of course your experiences are unique to you. I think you have a great deal of insight into your anxiety, and you can use this to overcome it. I noticed your comment about pressuring yourself to recover past happiness. Even though you're overthinking happy memories, they're still in the past. Anxiety has such a way of keeping us stuck in the past or afraid of what might happen in the future. It keeps us out of the present. Have you ever considered what it would be like to define what happiness is to you now, separate from what it was in the past? Also, what would it be like to make small goals and do little things each day to move toward what you want? This won't quickly erase anxiety, but it could really help. You could even turn this into a ritual that you do before bed. Perhaps journal, writing or drawing or both, about things like what you're grateful for, what you did that day that you enjoyed/made you happy, and what you want to do more of tomorrow. Do this without any devices on and with the lights reasonably dim. End with a mindfulness activity (something as simple as feeling the carpet beneath your feet, the smell of something pleasant (the kitchen is a great source for that), etc. Just use your senses to bring your attention to the moment. These activities can further calm your thoughts and make you feel empowered. It will help you learn how to be yourself, too. Thank you for reading my posts and watching my videos. :)
Chris harris
says:
December, 22 2018 at 6:13 am
Hey i overthink i have depersonalzation i know i dont have it but i always think about it and its symptoms and it makes me Imagine me
Really having it and feels like the symptoms are real
December, 24 2018 at 5:18 am
Hi Chris,
Depersonalization is a legitimate effect of anxiety. While there is a dissociative disorder called depersonalization/derealization disorder, people can and do experience either one as effects of several disorders as well as side effects of some medications. It's to experience these as part of extreme stress and anxiety (people with occasionally strong anxiety but not categorized as an anxiety disorder also can experience depersonalization and derealization. Therapy can help verify that your symptoms are indeed depersonalization, and working with a therapist can help treat this and other effects of anxiety (including overthinking) that you are experiencing.
Amy Schroeder
says:
November, 29 2018 at 11:29 am
Thank you for that tip! I met a man who I’m head over heels for. We’re good friends but something that makes me sad is that he’ll visit with others but seems like he can’t be ALONE with me for very long. I’m beginning to believe that it’s because I always end up telling him something or asking questions that ALWAYS come from OVERTHINKING and are probably embarrassing him or making him feel uncomfortable. I’m afraid he’ll never let me in like his other friends. I’ve only known him for 6 months. Now even if I get controll over my thoughts, he’s so used to my foolish conversations , how will he notice if I’m not talking that way anymore?
December, 4 2018 at 12:22 pm
Hi Amy,
That is a good question and such a common dilemma. We notice things about ourselves we want to change, we work on it, we grow -- and then we go back to worrying that people will keep assuming that we're the same and won't notice our new behaviors. (I've been there myself.) That old saying is true: Actions speak louder than words. I've been searching for another quote that is perfect here, but I can't find it at the moment. The essence is to shut up and let people notice what you're doing and not doing. (I'm not telling you to shut up! It just illustrates the sentiment of the quote I can't find.) Your friend and others probably won't comment on your changes, but they'll reflect them in their own behavior. You might find that he spends more time with you, for example. (One thing to keep in mind is that wanting to change some things and grow is healthy and good. There's a fine line, though, between this and modifying who you are to gain the approval of someone. True friends accept both strengths and weaknesses. Just a thought.)
Makooks
says:
November, 23 2018 at 9:45 am
Lowkey distractions only work for so long. From one distraction to another, this is yet another behaviour as vicious as overthinking. This cyclical approach fails to address the root of the problem, which is always a genuine concern no matter how random. As arbitrary as it may be, it is still based on truth, or rather logical scenarios that remain as nothing more than a possibility. By not giving it attention you do not take away that reality or make it less true. Youre only saving yourself the effort of tackling the problem. The reason you suffer is not because you feed attention to the wrong thought but because you are not working to make that wrong thought the right one. Overthinking is only a crutch if you do not understand why you think those thoughts. They manifest in our heads not to hinder us but to help secure our success by working out solutions to potential problems so you dont have to go back and correct them. By looking at every angle you can devise a fail-safe plan of action that will give you the ease of mind you are looking for. Only once you know you done, are doing, or will do your best to lessen that worrysome truth that something can go wrong, will you be able to get it OUT of your mind instead of putting it IN THE BACK of your mind. When the distraction ends, reality will come back. GoodLuck. Preparation is Key; Distraction is Crutch.
November, 26 2018 at 12:11 pm
Hi Makooks,
Thank you for sharing this insight. The approach you mention is very helpful for some people (a lot of people). Your comment makes another good point: There are so many approaches to dealing with anxiety in general and thoughts in particular. Some things work great for one person but not for another, and vise versa. The important thing is that there truly is something to help everyone. It's often a matter of trial and error until one finds what's right for him/her. I really appreciate it when people share what works for them because it's provides more information.
mady
says:
November, 16 2018 at 7:44 pm
my overthinking is affecting everything, my relationship. it’s making me question my happiness when ik for a fact i am happier than ever! but it’s only when i’m away from from him. he’s my everything and i love him more than anything! i need help before it causes serious damage
Andy
says:
November, 15 2018 at 1:37 pm
Hi Tanya, I am a 27 year old male, always a bit socially awkward around girls, always focused on studies etc. I had never dated any girl or never told any girl about my feelings until now. At my workplace, there is this cute girl who is from a totally different country and culture, with whom I was good friends for the past whole year. We used to hang out regularly with other coworkers, enjoy each other’s company, and I started falling for her eventually, but was trying not to show it as I thought it’s wrong to date a coworker. But last week we had a office party, where we talked a lot, I could not control my emotions and told her that I liked her. She was taken aback, but responded positively that she also liked me but then we discussed about our different culture, religion, office priorities and came to a conclusion that we may possibly date in the future but right now would not be a right time. To tell her what I feel took a lot of guts for me. But then since that day, I have been constantly feeling ashamed of letting her know my feelings, and changing the friendly equation between us, feel worried sick, overthinking, cannot sleep properly, cannot eat food properly etc. Every morning I get up suddenly around 4 am and start worrying about what I said, what will happen, whether I will lose my job etc, all irrational thoughts. I feel super tired at work, try to avoid her and others and feel that I have ruined my career. I don’t even want any relationship with her anymore, I just want the anxiety, stress and worry to stop. I don’t want her to be affected due to my weird behavior. Anyway I am not even dating her, I just told her I like her, even then I am worried sick, thinking obsessive thoughts and super anxious. I have never felt this way before, and I do not want to lose my job because of all this. Please help me and advise. My family is not understanding what’s happening to me either. I feel I should get out of this worry cycle super quick and focus back on work as I really do not want to lose my job. Please help!
November, 16 2018 at 7:43 pm
Hi Andy,
It sounds like you are experiencing a nasty aspect of anxiety know as catastrophizing. It's a very common part of anxiety, so know that this isn't something "you" are doing wrong. It's anxiety. Anxiety tends to make us blow things out of proportion to make them seem bigger than they really are (this is also called magnifying or magnification). It causes us to do exactly what you're describing because the problem seems so big and so real. And this kind of thinking makes anxiety spread to other situations, such as worrying about losing your job. This seems strange, but it's true: our thoughts aren't always true. Just because we think something doesn't mean it's accurate or that we're right. Of course it seems that way because it's our thoughts. Why would they be inaccurate? There are so may reasons why our thoughts can't always be accepted as true. A big reason is that anxiety skews our perception of things. This is all good because it means that your situation might not be as bad as you think. It's also possible to change catastrophic thinking.

Try staying in your present moment as much as possible. When you catch your anxiety running wild, take a breath and return your attention to what you're doing. When your friend talks to you, simply listen and respond in the moment you're in. When your worries take over, tune back into the present moment (this is called mindfulness). Remind yourself, too, that you're thoughts are just thoughts and not always accurate. If you catch yourself worrying about ruining your career, tell yourself, "I'm having the thought that I've ruined my career." It puts some distance between you and your thoughts. All of this is a process that takes some patience, practice, and persistence, but it is effective in calming anxious thoughts and reclaiming your life -- both days and nights.
Trishala
says:
April, 26 2019 at 10:24 am
Hey, I have a constant thoughts of losing my boyfriend because of the mistakes I've done in my past. Now even the smallest things gives me panic attack like what if I had crush on someone when i was committed with my boyfriend and I'll be constantly thinking about my past mistakes....! My boyfriend tells me not to say anything about that but I'll be regretting evrytime this makes my life a hell.
May, 6 2019 at 4:00 pm
Hi Trishala,
Relationships are a common source of anxiety and overthinking. You're definitely not alone in this, although of course your specific thoughts and situations are unique. So many times what we focus on grows and even becomes true because that's the center of our attention. These thoughts and worries can interfere in relationships. It sounds like you've talked to your boyfriend. Have you talked about mistakes from the past? Doing so might lessen your anxiety because it will be out in the open and you don't have to worry about being "caught." If you don't want to do that, you could accept that you made mistakes so you can move past them. When you accept something like this, you make room to let other things in -- like your boyfriend's comments about not saying that you're worried and enjoying time with your boyfriend. Acceptance lets you be in the moment rather than stuck overthinking.
Srushti
says:
November, 11 2018 at 1:23 pm
Hello Tanya..
Your article helped me a lot ..i can definitely relate it with my experience..I had medical entrance exam last year,and I was having anxiety like 'what if I will not be able to crack it'.. unfortunately i lost it by some marks last year...this yrar I m again preparing for same exam..somewhere I get anxiety about '' what if I write my roll number wrong in exam.( Auough last year I wrote mu roll number right"...

As u said in Ur article that" we often think that these thoughts are real , although they are not"...how to work on that..?

Pls suggest something...I m in very need of help... again thanking you
Srushti
says:
November, 11 2018 at 1:25 pm
As u said in Ur article that" we often think that these thoughts are real , although they are not"...how to work on that..?
November, 13 2018 at 12:08 pm
Hi Srushti,
First, congratulations on getting this far -- to reach your medical entrance exam is an outstanding achievement. Next, I know you have what it takes to beat this anxiety and move past the exam because you aren't giving up. You're preparing again despite anxiety. Consider that and all you have done/are doing to keep moving forward even though it's difficult. Writing down what is helping you do this (your strengths, values, and goals for example) can be very helpful in grounding you and causing to see past your anxiety.

Another thing particularly useful in dealing with false thoughts that seem real (I merged your separate comment into this one, by the way). is practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness involves pulling yourself out of your head, away from anxious thoughts, by paying attention to what is going on in your present moment. For example, if you're studying and find yourself caught up in the worry that you'll write the incorrect roll number, shift your attention to the information in front of you. Remind yourself, "I am studying for this exam and I made it this far so I'm smart enough to complete the form and pass the test." Then, notice your notes or book, spend a moment looking at it and touching the pages to center yourself. Bring your attention to the material and concentrate on it. When your mind begins to worry, just return to mindfulness. Over time, this will become second nature and can calm anxiety in pretty much any situation. I've included a link to an article about mindfulness and anxiety if you'd like more information.

Using Mindfulness for Anxiety: Here's How: https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/anxiety/using-mindfulness-for-anxiety-here-s-how

Mindfulness Can Calm Anxious Thoughts: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/01/mindfulness-can-calm-anxiety
Alex
says:
October, 30 2018 at 12:49 pm
The problem with anxiety disorders is that they feel so real and that many people who suffer/ moan about them are unaware just how far back their manifestation reaches. Sometimes the roots of anxiety go back as early as the first few months after birth into this hell of existence. Considering that the first 6 years of life our brains are within the Theta wave frequency, thus below the frequency of our conscious mind, any postnatal anxiety disorder is so intricately woven into our fabric of thinking that it manifests as a reality, albeit a disadvantageous one.
Having had anxiety disorders since I was 5, perhaps even earlier, as well as suicidal ideation and an obsession with death on a weekly basis for the past 30 years whenever overwhelmed by my triggers, I have come to the conclusion of just letting it be. After 12 years of psychotherapy with 4 different psychiatrists, countless medication, and 'trying' to get better I realised that my anxiety and suicidal thoughts perish when I isolate myself from the wretched outside world; of course any liberal, disinterested and deluded psychiatrist would see red flags, but I do enjoy seeing them panic and pretending to care.
When I returned to myself, a nihilistic anarchist, and when I started to read Nietzsche again I found my existence bearable because I enjoyed hating life again. The one thing that I don't agree with Nietzsche, and all other philosophers as well as psychiatrists, is their realization of life being meaningless but suicide not being an answer or option, though instead one should start being compassionate towards others and help those less fortunate to leave behind the basic and lesser animal instincts. Though precisely the suppression of the lesser animal instincts is what started the malicious cycle. And on top of that, knowing that the limbic system is physically larger than the logical prefrontal cortex, what chance does somebody really have to overcome their innate anxiety disorders? None! Sure you can delude yourself by believing in goodness and pretending that therapy is getting you somewhere where you imagine to be socially acceptable, but deep down you know you're lying, as I discovered. Both of my parents are weak psychologically, meaning they will blame the world or anyone for their failures or nearly anything adverse, just like most people, especially on this post- admit it, you're all looking for praise and understanding from a stranger. And for what? To get a feeling of momentary alleviation? Well news flash, you're anxiety ain't going nowhere and the sooner you accept that the quicker you can be on your way.
Those here with deep rooted anxiety and depression, all I can say is they will continue to exist and proliferate in strength until you liberate yourself from the environment in which they prosper and flourish. You, we, are different than those without chronic anxiety and depression, if it won't go away by any means possible than try to adapt by leaving the very things which exacerbate the symptoms. After I turned my back to my family, most friends and socially acceptable norms, my life has become tolerable. Remember, as long as you are craving for your thirst to be quenched it means you are doing something causing dehydration, similarly, if you continue to look for happiness in life you are doing something causing continuous sadness.
Vita detestabilis, vana salus, remember this and you will never again hope for happiness but instead live consciously.
Take care, or not.
Abigail Torres
says:
October, 27 2018 at 4:18 pm
Your video calmed me so much. I just wish It was longer. But I just feel like sometimes I can't relate to all these different categories of anxiety. I am a mom of two boys, I work a full time job and I go to school. But just recently I began feeling what I assume is anxiety. In the beginning I could feel the panic attacks coming, until I started getting this habit of taking deep breaths constantly or else I began to feel like I couldn't breathe. That slowly went away, but now I am starting to swallow constantly and I get comfort out of it just like the breathing. So obviously it is stressful to have to be doing that all the time, I just dont know If I can relate it to anxiety:/

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