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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, September 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.

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!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 5 2018 at 11:19 am
Hi Nikki,
You've experienced a lot of changes recently (plus have dealt with health issues)! Even positive changes can create anxiety and adjustment struggles. This article is about adjustment disorder and anxiety: https://www.healthyplace.com/ptsd-and-stress-disorders/adjustment-disorder/adjustment-disorder-with-anxiety/), and at the end there is a link to other helpful articles about adjustment disorder. The number one thing to know right now is that it's temporary. If you'd like, check out the information in the article. That might help you decide whether to seek professional help. Working with a therapist, even for a short time, can be very effective in helping you overcome anxiety, adjustment problems, and more.
Alexander John
says:
February, 28 2018 at 2:04 am
I have a problem or issue, i don't know how to call it, anxiety related.

I will be very short in details and it goes like this:
1) i am a very logical, rational and resonable person
2) everything i say, do or someone else says or do i ANALYZE
3) this analyze is very very stressfull and it blocks me from doing the important things in life.
4) When i analyze i mean: syntactic analyze, rational analyze, logic analyze and so on...

What are your suggestions about this?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 1 2018 at 10:24 am
Hi Alexander John,
Analyzing in this way can be exhausting, and when it blocks you from what's important, it can be a big problem. Have you ever visited with a medical professional or mental health professional about this? This doesn't mean that there is something wrong. It would be a way of investigating to get to the bottom of it. Different things can contribute to the type of analyzing you mention, and if you can pinpoint something, you can better target it so you can live your life free from this overthinking. You can also use your logic and rationality to your advantage. Some people find it useful to compartmentalize their thoughts (others need to work to stop doing this -- it all depends on the individual person). Create a "filing system" in your mind for different types of thoughts. When you are listening to someone and notice yourself analyzing, visualize yourself filing your thoughts away and locking the filing cabinet. If you want to go back to the thoughts later, you can, but if you don't want to, you can keep them locked. This is just a visualization exercise that can help you gain control over your analyzing thoughts. It can feel weird initially, and it takes some practice. Essentially what you're doing is training your brain to just tune in and ignore the tendency to analyze. You might prefer a different technique. Using your own logic could be very helpful.
Sasha
says:
February, 20 2018 at 9:51 pm
Hi
I have been overthinking for 3 months and I have problems with my family, friends and boyfriend. I was moody and so many emotional, I have been crying for 3 months because sometimes I get emotional to no reason. It’s hard for me because when overthinking that how people treat me and make me hurt even more. I don’t know who am I. I still hurt for what people hating me. Because I fight with them and fight with for no reason because I was angry and hating myself too much. But I don’t understand why I have been emotional and overthinking for past 3 months because I never had like that before. I really need help to how get over with emotional and overthinking. I just want to go back to normal life.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 23 2018 at 11:03 am
Hi Sasha,
What a long three months you must have had -- and are still experiencing. Of course you want to return to the way things were! And it's possible. It sounds like the root of the overthinking is emotions and relationships. Being able to describe this is great, because you can pinpoint the problems and start addressing them right away. With what you're describing, it's very helpful to work directly with a mental health professional. This link will take you to a list of articles with information about types of mental health treatment, where to find it, and more. Just scroll to the "Mental Illness Treatment" heading, and click on the one(s) that sound helpful to you. https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/mental-health-information-toc/
February, 16 2018 at 2:49 pm
Hi Neelam,
It sounds like you are a very caring, compassionate person. Those are wonderful strengths to have and can help you have strong, close relationships. You don't want to give that up! But like all strengths, these can get in your way, as you are seeing. You are already a step ahead because you recognize that this is happening and how it's interfering in your life and happiness. Now you can focus on shifting your thoughts. Having anxiety about the health of people you care about is actually common -- you're not alone. I actually wrote an article addressing this very thing. It might have ideas that will help you. Here is the link: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/11/anxiety-over-a-loved-ones-health-dos-and-donts/
NEELAM
says:
February, 16 2018 at 7:35 am
Hello.ma'am
I m addicted to over thinking when it comes to heath issues of anyone in my family.. I just reach to the maximum wid very little of anything.. last month my Lo was not well for 10 days.. I was going through very tensed situation where she had small viral infection.. now when after 15 days she got cold now mild fever again and my thoughts are skyrocketing as why she fell ill within 15 days.. my very tensed and feel lost in my bad thoughts..
This habit is killing me and my wonderful present not future..
Ma'am plz advise. How to cope up with this
Nestor F.
says:
February, 10 2018 at 4:25 pm
Idk what I'm doing, but ok, so I'm 19 years old, and I have been living my life with some problems that I try to explain, but can't. At times I've wanted to do some things that I don't want to mention, but I realize how I always overthink about anything that is not to big of a deal. (for some reason I'm shaking right now) My whole life I've been trying to go out and be heard, but I get too shy and feel down when I try. I'm always "on the low," don't talk much, always listening to music, by myself, rarely go out, can't deal with strangers much or crowds. Have tried working as a server twice, but unfortunately got fired twice for the same reason (not showing up, calling "sick") but went back to delivering. I just don't know what to say. But I give what I can think of.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 14 2018 at 3:50 pm
Hi Nestor,
I'm sorry to read about what you're going through. You mentioned wanting to be out and about but being too shy. I'm wondering about something based on what you've written, but I'm definitely not trying to diagnose you. That would be wrong of me and impossible to do with just this little bit of information. Some of what you said reminds me a lot of social anxiety and, beyond that, something called avoidant personality disorder. "Shyness" exists on a spectrum with mild shyness on one end and avoidant personality disorder on the other. Avoidant personality disorder is like social anxiety on steroids. This article will tell you a bit more about this, and if it seems to fit, you can look up some more information: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/03/social-anxiety-a-spectrum-from-shy-to-avoidant/ Intense social anxiety can be hard to overcome, but with patience and perseverance, things will get better. You can even have a job and a social life.
Amad
says:
February, 10 2018 at 1:15 pm
I have my eyebrows bones little exposed within two weeks of over thinking for the left one it is old one the right eye brows bones it is exposed more recently .

Is it cause by anxiety ?because I have many issues .

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 14 2018 at 3:38 pm
Hi Amad,
Anxiety can cause many physical symptoms. Whenever you have something physical like this, it's a good idea to see a doctor to rule out or treat a health condition.
Selina
says:
February, 6 2018 at 6:21 pm
I‘m only 21 but looking back i have always had negative thoughts, circeling in my head so fast its every second lately. I feel trappes in my head and the things I think about is actually always worrying about what other people think about me while I am actually doing stuff, I am thinking like that even about my friends and family. It is probably because Im insecure in general but lately the more I stop to think about it, the heavier the tboughts get. Its like my mind is constantly racing

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 14 2018 at 3:43 pm
Hi Selina,
A constantly racing mind -- that is a really good description. Social anxiety and insecurity can definitely be at the root of this type of overthinking. And as you're seeing, it can keep getting worse! The good news is that it can also get better. Have you looked into social anxiety? Perhaps starting by looking into information about this type of anxiety will be a great first step in reducing overthinking.
Trace
says:
February, 3 2018 at 5:58 pm
Good video. Does a therapist notice anxiety and over thinking? Mine has never mentioned it. Only one has ever acknowledged the dissociation. But we never worked on anything to stop it. I get my Mental Health care through the Veterans Admins., in the USA, so I don't think they are equipped to handle dissociation or to do therapy to help anxiety or overthinking. Sessions are usually 6-12 weeks apart :(

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 14 2018 at 3:41 pm
Hi Trace,
Some therapists do (and should) address overthinking. Others do not. I'm not sure what the VA policy is. If it's possible to try a different therapist? Also, 6-12 weeks apart is a long time between sessions. Have you tried any self-help books about anxiety to work on between sessions? That might be helpful.
Witek
says:
January, 27 2018 at 3:59 am
Is it possible that such things are genetically passed? My mother has problem with anxiety. He never starts conversation with "how are you", instead she says "is everything OK" assuming that it's not and she wants me to prove her wrong. Why is that I always think obsessively about something even thought it's already clear. to me? I For example I know that I still have time to do something, yet I worry it will be too late. Why is that I seek confirmation from many sources and even when I am sure about something I still have this kind of feeling "what if....". I often ask the same questions and people get angry about it. It affects my relations with my girlfriend. She says I am obsessed and annoying. Then I worry...that I am too annoying and I keep asking her "am I not annoying you". Then of course, she gets angry. It's like I want to go somewhere in April and I know that I can make final decision in March but I feel like I have to do it now, I don't know where this feelings comes from. I know it's overthinking and anxiety. I keep telling myself "stop" or "it's OK, you already know that" but it does not seem to work. What can I do? I can't concentrate on everyday stuff, simple things.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 30 2018 at 11:11 am
Hello Witek,
Anxiety can be related to genetics, at least partially. It can also definitely be learned. Anxiety is no one's fault but is something complex that develops from many different experiences with our environment, within the brain, and a consequence of interactions with others, including parents. Your mom probably cares about you and wants you to be safe (physically, emotionally -- the whole deal). She might have some fears and anxieties of her own that give her reason to believe that the world is not okay, and by constantly asking and obsessing, it's her way of making sure you are okay. But having that kind of interaction and talk over and over again really could have an impact on how you interact. This is what you learned, and it's naturally how you see things and react. (This is oversimplified and there is a lot more to anxiety -- and to you as a person -- than this. This is an observation based on what you mentioned.)

You have already had a great first step. You've identified what you don't want. The next step is identifying what you do want and then create an action plan that involves small steps to work your way to who and how you want to be. It's common to think, "I know what I want. I don't want to be this way. I want to stop overthinking. That's what I want." But that isn't helpful. When you think about what you don't want, you are thinking of what you don't want. Your focus is on the negative. Just reframing and focusing on what you do want will start to make a difference. Build on that with action, and you will be working toward the change you want to, and can, create.
Zach
says:
January, 24 2018 at 12:34 pm
Hello I am 21 years old, my name is zach, I recently just started having anxiety/overthinking issues in my life. I have so much blessings in my life and not really having nothing to complain about: I'm going to trade school and working to be an electrician, I keep a good relationship with my family and my friends, and about 2 months deep into a relationship with a wonderful woman. Shes is very mature and very understanding about a lot of things. So recently I started getting really anxious and start overthinking my actions around her. I keep playing scenarios in my head over and over again thinking "she's going to leave me she's in a bad mood." Basically almost making it believable that she's going to leave me because I'm thinking lesser of myself. Does that make sense? Our relationship is going really well and she has no intentions of leaving. She knows I have this problem and wants to help the best she can. Whenever I get into this anxious/overthinking mood it gets so bad I do not want to eat and I just get this heavy feeling in my chest. All because my mind plays scenerios that ARENT true. I just want it to stop. It's stopping me from being myself around the people I love

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 30 2018 at 11:01 am
Hi Zach,
The insight you have about your anxiety, including the fact that you know that your thoughts don't match reality, means that you're already far into the process of overcoming this. Many times, people don't realize that just because they are thinking and feeling, it doesn't make it true. (That is a common trick that anxiety plays on people, so it's not bad when that happens. It's just a different starting point for overcoming anxiety). You're aware of your irrational thoughts (that's not a judgment; "irrational" is just the word that is used and it means that they aren't what's really happening). I have two links for you that might be helpful. One is about relationships, and the other is about an approach to mental health and wellbeing called acceptance and commitment therapy. These just might have information that will help you stop the anxious thoughts and let you be yourself. (ACT is largely about learning to be yourself.)

https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/03/how-to-stop-feeling-insecure-in-relationships/

https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/07/stop-avoiding-anxiety-acceptance-and-commitment-therapy/
Veronica
says:
January, 20 2018 at 12:06 pm
Hello Tanya. i'm 21 years old girl and i have been having a lot of axiety lately. I have decided to make do certain things during the day in order to be productive, for example, studying french 2 hours, piano 1 hour, seweing 1 hour in the evening, reading, etc. When i wake up in the morning my brain is calm for some time but after 2 hours i start thinking about how the time won't be enough, that i will feel tired or lazy, how i won't progress as much as i would expect and so on, i overthink and i think that negatively affects my performance. I started having anxiety about 2 and a half years ago because i had a teacher that was very tough, i even had panic attacts at night but the it all went away but now, i just think about me not being able to be as productive as i would like to, i get tired very soon now and also, i'm from Venezuela, my country is in chaos, everywhere you go you see poverty, lack of opportunities so it is somehow a very sad environment, i don't know if that could have something to do with it too. Today, i had a awkward social interaction with someone (i'm a very shy person) and then i came home could not stop feeling bad about it and thinking it too and i'm never like that, i mean, if something like that happens i just think "whatever, it already happened, i can't change it" but this time was not like that. Something else, i suffer from metabolic syndrom and had already had hypothyroidism.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 30 2018 at 10:40 am
Hi Veronica,
From my own personal experience plus what I've encountered professionally, this drive/need to be productive is extremely anxiety-provoking. It becomes a terrible cycle: We think/worry about not being productive. So we try harder to be productive, taking on more tasks to try to solve the problem. Of course, there is only so much time, and everything we do requires time, which means we don't get to everything. That makes us feel less productive. So we take on more. The cycle continues and anxiety worsens. It even causes physical symptoms and physical illness. It can also lead to other mental health challenges -- like the way you reacted to the social interaction. That is a very normal thing to do, and it often comes from being overwhelmed. The brain becomes overloaded and it becomes harder for it to handle things.

It's hard to break out of this cycle of anxiety and productivity. Believe me, I know! One thing that is often effective is to start at the source -- the need to be productive. Make a definition of productivity that is meaningful to you and of course realistic. Define what is reasonable to do in a day, then choose the most necessary things to fit into the time frame. Jot them down so you can cross them off when you do them. That reinforces that you are doing things. Also, before bed, list what you accomplished and why it matters. If/when you keep thinking about what you didn't accomplish, write that down, too, plus why it's okay that those things didn't get done. This is a good first step to reducing this "productivity anxiety."

One thing that very likely does contribute is something out of your control: the chaos around you. These conditions absolutely can cause or add to anxiety, depression, PTSD and other trauma-related disorders, and more. I happened to research this recently for a book, so I've read studies and personal accounts about the effects of living in wide-spread poverty, long-term effects of natural disasters, war, political strife, etc. This chaos does take a toll on mental health and wellbeing. Discovering personal meaning can counterbalance the negative effects. What is important to you? Who is important to you? What bothers you that you would like to see change? If you can take time to explore what is meaningful to you, you can then do things to live in a way that matches your meaning. This has the added bonus of reducing the need to be productive because living according to your values is naturally productive and satisfying.
Michael mortara
says:
January, 16 2018 at 4:38 am
Hi. I am male 34 living in India. I have severe anxiety talking with even people I know. They can be my senior cousins or my elder uncles. Whoever is outside of my family. I fear mostly teasing and pulling a leg thinking that they will not like that considering they are elder to me. I am happy when I am natural. However, anxiety stops me from enjoying the moment fully because it keeps me shut, it keeps me from conversing at my full potential. I have no ill will but I fear the reactions of my cousins and uncle/aunt. I fear that they would react harshly when I tease them. And say that it is inappropriate. I feel like being admonished like a kid. I have always kept to myself mostly. And remained anxious for so many years since childhood.
Please help

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 19 2018 at 10:24 am
Hi Michael,
Sometimes (many times) family can cause great anxiety for many different reasons. When family members, especially older ones in a special role, judge us negatively, it can cause anxiety and withdrawal. Sometimes, putting family opinions aside temporarily (you can still respect them in their role) and exploring who you are and how you want to be can reduce anxiety. You have a chance to know yourself without feeling wrong about your discoveries. One way to do this is to examine your unique strengths and find ways you want to use them. Check out www.viacharacter.org for a high-quality self-test and information. Also, because you have been dealing with this for so long and because it comes from family, it can be helpful to work with a therapist. If you don't have easy access to a therapist, you can try an online service such as betterhelp.com or talkspace.com. Truly, you don't have to be stuck with this severe anxiety forever.
January, 9 2018 at 7:46 am
Hi Michele,
Know that you aren't alone in this. So many people have a hard time around what you describe that there are indeed books to help. The other reason there are books is because it is possible to overcome this and thrive. If it were hopeless, there wouldn't be any books!


Something that stood out to me in what you wrote was the fact that you have a new job and have recently experienced traumas. While I would never dish out a diagnosis, I will say that these are elements of adjustment disorder or even adjustment-related stress if it's not a full-blown disorder. Even positive change can lead to adjustment stress/disorder. This is something that is temporary when you have help dealing with it. That help can be in book form. There aren't many books about adjustment disorder out there. One good (but short) one is Adjustment Disorder: When You Can't Cope with Change by J.B. Snow. Learn more here: http://amzn.to/2FkS7Pq. That title sounds a bit off-putting in my opinion. But if you can get past the harsh "When you can't cope with change" part, the information is good.


Another good title to look into is Thriving with Social Anxiety: Daily Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety and Building Self Confidence by Hattie Cooper.

Another one that is helpful with overthinking, self-confidence, adjustment, and more is Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 Steps: http://amzn.to/2FlaPqu. I should disclose that I am the author of this one. However, I make nothing from the sales and have nothing to gain at all by telling you about this book. I believe strongly in acceptance and commitment therapy so I'm just listing this with the other two.

I hope this list gives you a good start. You're on the right track already. You've taken two important steps: you decided you want to break your current patterns (that's a big decision that not everyone makes), and you're seeking information to do it. Keep at it!
Michele
says:
January, 8 2018 at 7:32 pm
I am 30 years old, and I have recently changed careers. I'm starting to see very negative patterns of thinking where my job performance is concerned. I've been through a few traumatic events in recent years (from being told I had performance issues job wise to being stalked), and I find myself consistently overthinking what I and other people say and do. I have a hard time trusting my co workers and opening up to them about work related things. I am constantly worried that I am going to do the wrong thing and be fired. I have similar issues with relationships as well, but those are more rooted in insecurity and feeling like I don't have anything to offer another person. I have a tendency to pull people close then push them away.

I am looking for books or techniques that will help me break these patterns of negative thoughts and over come my over thinking. I think I'd be a happier and healthier person. Previous therapists haven't always been helpful, and I am not in a position in my life to be able to afford therapy. Any advice you give would be greatly appreciated.
willy
says:
January, 8 2018 at 2:23 am
hi Tanya
my name is willy im 21. i have relationship problem with my girlfriend. She had been overthinking in our relationship and question the feeling of mine. She overthink stuff very easily . i feel that she didnt feels secure inside her even though im trying to give her security as much as i could. We been loving each other very much but we argue very often. She been keeping her overthink to herself and refuse to talk about it every time i ask about it. Im very tired and so she does but its our first love and we dont want to break up, we are so important to each other. Could you suggest me some way to overcome my problem?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 8 2018 at 5:15 am
Hi Willy,
Relationships are difficult! Add anxiety and insecurity to the mix, and "difficult" doesn't describe them adequately. It sounds like you have a healthy perspective, seeing both the positives and negatives. Know that the feelings you are experiencing are very normal. I have a resource to share with you that you might want to look into. It's a book called Anxious in Love: How to Manage Your Anxiety, Reduce Conflict, and Reconnect with Your Partner (the Amazon link is http://amzn.to/2AGQU1v -- it's just so you can look. I'm not trying to sell! I have nothing to do with this book.) It's written more to the person with anxiety, but it is suitable for both people in the relationship. I haven't read this particular book, but I have read other books by one of the authors (Carolyn Daitch). I like her work. This might be something for you to read first to gain some insights and tips, and it's also a good one to read with your girlfriend and talk about with her. This book won't advise you to stay together or tell you to break up (at least it *shouldn't* give you advice like that). But it will help you communicate, give you strategies to try, and ultimately see if the relationship causes more stress than good times. Most of Daitch's books are available in libraries, so you might be able to check it out rather than purchasing it. You seem very caring and solution-focused. Those are very positive qualities. Know that if you decide to break up, those qualities will still remain. Sometimes staying together is best, and sometimes breaking up is best. By exploring this, you can be confident that whichever path you take, it's the right one for you both.
Tamim
says:
January, 5 2018 at 11:29 pm
hi,tanya i am 17 years old and i started to think over on every single situation.
when i was about 14 i started to over think and talk to myself about situations....
but now i know i thinked in a wrong way..i want to recover
from it but its so stressfull how my inner voices are
stressing me....please help me i am in problem...
what can i do to controll my mind annd inner voices...?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 8 2018 at 5:34 am
Hi Tamim,
Overthinking in this way is very stressful. One important place for you to start overcoming this is to know that you haven't thought in a wrong way. It can feel that way, but that's part of the way anxiety makes us think. It's easier said that done, but it's important not to judge yourself so negatively. A simple way to begin doing this (it won't completely solve the problem, but it's a great way to start): whenever you are thinking negative thoughts, overthinking something, etc. stop yourself and say "I'm having the thought that..." (So if you think "I shouldn't have said that," change it to (I'm having the thought that I shouldn't have said that.") It shifts your thinking and distances yourself, sending the subtle message that it's only a thought rather than a truth. This comes from acceptance and commitment therapy. This is an approach that helps people deal with challenges like overthinking. This article can give you more information: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/07/stop-avoiding-anxiety-acceptance-and-commitment-therapy/

I do have a question for you. You mentioned inner voices. This means different things to different people. For you, are inner voices the thoughts you are telling yourself, or are they statements that you can hear, things that are talking to you? If you are actually hearing voices talking to you, or if you aren't sure, visit the Hearing Voices Network: https://www.hearing-voices.org/. You'll find a lot of information to help you know if this is what you're experiencing and, if this is it, information about what to do and where to find help.

Whatever the cause of your thoughts/overthinking, help is available. You don't have to be bothered by this forever.
Alondra C
says:
January, 4 2018 at 5:32 pm
Hello im Alondra 16 from Texas I have and have had friends that suffer with mental illnesses and I always encourage them to open up and look at the better things in life and in themselves.I feel like a hypocrite because I tell them to do this but don’t do it for myself, I constantly feel pressured to be the best in class because I feel that if I don’t I’m never gonna get anywhere even tho I have great grades and do well in school. This might be due to the fact that I tend to overthink everything all the smallest thing for example when driving I always think the worst like what if I died right now. Thought like this have brought me to the point if crying and constant stress. I feel like I should look for professional help but I’m afraid to because what if it’s not something big and I’m just being dramatic I don’t know what to do anymore with always being stressed and always being a big procrastinator I feel like I’ll get nowhere and all my hard work will go to waste.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 6 2018 at 10:43 am
Hi Alondra,
It's great that you encourage friends to open up! And you're not a hypocrite for having a hard time opening up yourself. Doing so is really difficult. It's also common for people of all ages to wonder if they're making too big a deal out of what they're experiencing. When you feel pressure to be the best, it can become even more difficult. I think it is very reasonable, and very important, to seek professional help. When your anxiety gets in the way of your life, seeking professional help can help get you back on track, so you are in control of the worries instead of worries being in control of you. You can also reign in that perfectionism and performance anxiety that just might be at the root of your other worries. :)
Emma Flannery
says:
January, 3 2018 at 2:23 pm
Hi tanya, and every other phsycholigist/therapists, on this website!. my name is Emma Flannery, and i am a 17 year old Polish-American girl, that lives in Australia!!!!! Which i hate sooooooooooo much!!!!!!!! Words literally can't discribe how much i hate it!!. and i am severely stuck in my brain everyday!!!!!, and right now i am overthinking about what someone was going to say, because they didn't finish what they were saying!. And i have tried what you said to do Tanya! but it isn't working!!! Well i should say, it does work, but only temperarely..! I've always had this!, but the past roughly, about a couple of weeks it's been really really reeeally bad!, and unmanagible!. It's getting a bit more worse, as the day goes on!, every day!!!. Please help me!!!, is there medication i can take?, Or at least some form of help. i can't take any kind of therapy, unless it's medication therapy, that's if medication therapy even exists!. as i am not willing to do it, in Australia, as i don't trust Australia (the people,) unless they share the same views as me!. Like for example, Australia is mostly not a good country. exedra exedra. Don't get me wrong everyone, literally everyone, is etitled/has a right, to their own opinion!. But it's just that i have suffered a lot of trauma in Australia!, and by the people!. It's nothing personal!. As i was saying.. I got quite a bit of track there. Is there any medication that i can take??, or at least something to either stop, or at least make this managible!. Thanx for any proffesional who'll take the time to read and answer this comment!. This may sound extreamly racist!!, but it's not racist!. and it's perfectly fine and understandable if you take offence to it. As i was going to say, don't want any Australian's Answering this, or even just reading this. your allowed and entitled to like anything to do/asociated with Australia, and the people, and to be proud of being Australian. but if you do/are, then i am genuinly am sorry!, but i don't want you reading or anwsering this comment. it is because i have suffered an eeextream amount of trauma, including really really really complex trauma!!!! Words can't even describe how much trauma i have experianced!!. And words also can't describe how bad the trauma is!!. And i am extreamly extreamly confused!!!!!, Words can't even begin to describe how much i'm confused!!. So someone pleeeeeease help me!!!!!! I am sooooooooooo desprerate!!!!! Any help is appreciated!. ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Emma Flannery
says:
January, 3 2018 at 2:51 pm
When i say i am stuck in my my brain, i mean i am overthinking, and my that my thoughts are going around in loops!. I just wanted to let you know, and for my own piece of mind, that you know what i mean by that!. And see this is another thing, i have to, ask someone if they understood what i ment, by what i said!. Cos if i don't then i get really really really stressed and overthink heaps!!. So could you also please help me with this as well!??. Please, thanx!.??????????????
Crissy R
says:
December, 31 2017 at 3:28 am
Hi Tanya,

I've been diagnosed with panic disorder 5 months ago. I'm stuck in a rut and unhappy with my current career and personal life. I started getting very bad panic attacks every time I think about the future because I keep overthinking a scenario in which I realise my life is too dull and can't possibly bear with it another 40 years and want to end it all. I've been doing CBT for 4 months but my therapist isn't able to help me overthinking this scenario. It started to seem more and more real and it is the main fuel of my anxiety. Any tips?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 3 2018 at 8:05 am
Hi Crissy,
I have what might be good news. The key to moving past your overthinking and anxiety is in your message. Feeling stuck and unhappy with major aspects of your life is a HUGE contributing factor to anxiety. Many times -.people don't even realize this right away, but it sounds like you do -- which is another bit of good news. You've actually begun your journey to where you want to be. It just doesn't feel like it at the moment. It's very normal for people in similar situations. While you do feel stuck, the idea of the unknown can keep you right where you are. And changing careers or making big family changes is scary. It's often helpful to set thoughts about the future aside at first, other than creating goals and visions for what you want. Have a vision and then create an action plan to work toward it, and also live in the present moment. Do things every day to make good moments, and every day work toward your plan.

Also, don't worry about CBT not fully working. It can be great and very helpful, but it's not helpful for everyone and every situation, including your situation. You might want to look into solution-focused therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy. They're both goal and action-oriented to move your forward and reduce anxiety. You will be able to take charge of things, and you won't feel stuck forever!

I do want to mention one other thing. You made a comment about wanting to end it all sometimes. If you ever feel that way, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help and- support. Contact them to chat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1-800-273-8255.
Ben Marinelli
says:
December, 25 2017 at 7:12 pm
Hello my name is Ben, I’m 19yrs old and I am constantly worrying and overthinking everything. I have turned to self harm only a couple times. I have not been diagnosed with anything and I feel that I should talk to a professional but I just can’t get myself to go. My problem is that I worry about every little possible thing. I am really bad when it comes to overthinking. It gets so bad I get bad body pains everywhere. I’ve had enough living in darkness with a flood of negative thoughts. I am not sure what to do, it is hard for me to look at anything positively.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

December, 29 2017 at 6:38 am
Hi Ben,
I'm sorry to read that anxiety is plaguing you like this. I'm wondering if you also have some depression mixed in. Anxiety and depression often occur together and make each other worse. I certainly would never attempt to diagnose you! I just notice a mix of both anxiety and depression in what you described, and it might be worth looking into just to discover the best possible treatment. You're very wise in thinking about talking to a professional. Mental health professionals can guide you in overcoming challenges like this and discover a path to living your life fully. You might consider examining what's keeping you from going (many people are hesitant to see a professional and/or are so consumed by their symptoms that they can't do it -- so what you're experiencing is very normal.) Sometimes it's helpful to list reasons why you don't want to/can't get yourself to go. Then list all of the ways that you might benefit from going. Does the second list override the first? Having a specific purpose in mind can help you move forward even when you don't think you can. You've had enough of living in darkness -- now let yourself move out of it!

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