Anxiety and Overthinking Everything
Anxiety and overthinking tend to be evil partners. One of the horrible hallmarks of any type of anxiety disorder is the tendency to overthink everything. The anxious brain is hypervigilant, always on the lookout for anything it perceives to be dangerous or worrisome. I've been accused of making problems where there aren't any. To me, though, there are, indeed, problems. Why? Because anxiety causes me to overthink everything. Anxiety makes us overthink everything in many different ways, and the result of this overthinking isn't helpful at all. Fortunately, anxiety and overthinking everything doesn't have to be a permanent part of our existence.
Ways Anxiety Causes Overthinking
An effect of any type of anxiety is overthinking everything. There are common themes to the way anxiety causes overthinking. Perhaps this generic list will remind you of specific racing thoughts you experience and help you realize that you're not alone in overthinking everything because of anxiety.
- Obsessing over what we should say/should have said/did say/didn't say (common in social anxiety)
- Worrying incessantly about who we are and how we are measuring up to the world (common in social and performance anxiety)
- Creating fearful what-if scenarios about things that could go wrong for ourselves, loved ones, and the world (common in generalized anxiety disorder)
- Wild, imagined results of our own wild, imagined faults and incompetencies (all anxiety disorders)
- Fear of having a panic attack in public and possibly thinking that you can't leave home because of it (panic disorder with or without agoraphobia)
- Worrying about a multitude of obsessive thoughts, sometimes scary ones and thinking about them constantly (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
- Thinking -- overthinking -- a tumbling chain of worries, vague thoughts, and specific thoughts (all anxiety disorders)
Result of Anxiety and Overthinking
With anxiety, not only are these thoughts (and more) running through our brains, but they are always running through our brains, non-stop, endlessly. Like a gerbil hooked up to an endless drip of an energy drink, they run and run and wheel around in one place, going absolutely nowhere. Day and night, the wheel squeaks.
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.
NCC, T. (2015, December 31). Anxiety and Overthinking Everything, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/12/anxiety-and-over-thinking-everything
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
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.
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!
Two great approaches for self-help are also approaches therapists use with clients. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Solution-Focused Therapy are excellent. I use both approaches in my daily life. I started them when I was working to overcome horrible anxiety, and now they're a part of my general wellbeing. These two links take you to posts to each one just to give you a general idea about them. Check out an article about ACT here https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/07/stop-avoiding-anxiety-acceptance-and-commitment-therapy/ and an article about solution-focused therapy here: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/06/five-solution-focused-ways-to-beat-anxiety/.
Talking to someone about your anxiety could be very helpful to you. If you are uncomfortable talking to someone in person, there are online organizations that offer therapy and a safe, neutral place to let your down. TalkSpace.com and BetterTherapy.org are two of the online offerings that are professional and reputable. You've already taken the first step in reducing anxiety -- you're seeking information and reaching out. Keep going! Anxiety doesn't have to negatively affect your life forever.
I'm sorry you're having such a hard time with anxiety and ocd right now. I think it's great that you are looking for help and solutions -- it means you're not giving up no matter how bad things are right now! Things don't have to stay miserable. It usually takes time for the body and brain to adjust to a change in medication. Be patient with yourself during this transition period and knw that the higher-than-normal anxiety is part of the process of stopping medication. Being patient and accepting won't change your anxiety levels quickly, but it will help you deal with all of it.
Having support could go a long way toward overcoming this intensified anxiety and ocd. Working with a therapist can help people immensely. This number helps people find therapists in their area: 1-800-843-7274. You can also use therapist finders on PsychologyToday.com or GoodTherapy.org. Online counseling services like TalkSpace..com or BetterHelp.com. Finally, if you have a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) office in your area, they could be a great resource The offer support, classes, and know helpful community resources. I know that having anxiety can make these things hard to do. But if you start small and choose to find support in just one way, and then gradually add to what you're doing, you'll notice that it no longer feels like you're living in a nightmare.
Morning anxiety is a common, and frustrating, experience. Your description of it being a rut is very insightful, and you might not have realized it, but it can be the way out of it! Morning anxiety becomes part of a cycle of dread. You feel horribly anxious in the morning and dread going to bed at night because of what the morning will bring. To break the cycle, begin with the nighttime dread. Having a nightly ritual where you get comfortable, maybe light a candle or use an essential oil diffuser to stimulate your sense of smell which positively impacts the brain. Then, write down three things that you're grateful for (or three things that went well) from your day. Next, write down three things you're looking forward to tomorrow, no matter how small they are. You can end with a positive statement about yourself (also called an affirmation) that reminds you of your ability to get past morning anxiety. These thoughts will come to replace dread of the morning. Put your notebook beside your bed and when you wake up, redirect your thoughts by reading what you wrote the previous night. When you do this consistently, it can replace morning anxiety with morning positivity.
Overthinking this way absolutely causes problems. I know this from experience. I also know that it can get better! Two things you might want to look into are great for this kind of overthinking: acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness. (Mindfulness is a part of ACT, but it also is a healing approach on its own.) These articles might be helpful in giving you a bit of background: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/07/stop-avoiding-anxiety-acceptance-and-commitment-therapy/ and https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/anxiety/using-mindfulness-for-anxiety-here-s-how/
Also, working with a therapist can be very helpful too. In-person therapy has many benefits, but online counseling is available, too. GoodTherapy.org and TalkSpace.com are two reputable organizations.
You can absolutely do things to decrease anxiety and overthinking everything.
My mental sickness became treatment resistant as so many AD tried but nothing help. Sleepless ness now is major problem. I did CBT more then 12 sessions and even ECT six sessions, nothing help. Right now going through sevre emotional stress and anxiety with completly racing mind with nagative thoughts. I can't stop it inspite all efforts. I can't sleep also for many nights, even taking Clonazipan 1.25mg at night but it stoped helping to sleep. I don't know what to do and how to relax for a while. Seriously needs your guidance and help. My body feels and remained under sensation 24/7 with a feeling that some thing burning running in my blood veins.... I really feel a current like feeling contineously. Now fed up and tired. Feeling helpless, hopeless, worthless, sleepless, supportless, isolated, clueless.... not able to think or get of the bed and house. Due side effects dry eye n other eye related issues with digestion issues are adding further fuel to existing condition. Further my mind multiply every little things by 1000?times and fuel my anxiety, stress and worries. Off course I have some sevre family problems with my married children with whom I n my wife live as dependant. My wife is also very sick. My younger son and his wife are very sick due car accident this week.... these all things frustrat me too much and I can't think anything.
I'm sorry, you may edit my moderate and edit my comments bcz I m sure you understand where I'm coming from and what is my current position, issues and possible solutions and help. Kindly help me Taniya, I seriously needs your help. Email me with your reply asap. God bless you. Thanks giving holidays passed with lots of pains and now Christmas and new year holidays are ahead and my life will be miserable besides my sickness will be additional problems for my families. Help me please.
I'm sorry to read of all that you are experiencing. It sounds like you have some long-standing difficulties and now new ones added plus a difficult time of year. This can make everything seem insurmountable. Sorting this out with a therapist could be extremely helpful. In-person is always great, but it's not always possible. There are also online services like GoodTherapy.org or TalkSpace.com. In the meantime, of course you want to start feeling better right away. I have a question for you to think about: If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing, what would you change? What would be better, and how would you know it is better? Now, what small things can you do every day to make that one thing improve? (Okay, that was more than one question!) The idea behind this is that you get to start doing something, even if it's small, right away to start making things better. Also, it helps you prioritize and make a series of small goals. It can be very overwhelming and nearly impossible to address everything all at once. But by breaking it up into manageable goals, you can make improvements that add up to a big difference. You absolutely can get better!
I'm sorry you didn't receive a positive reaction from your family when you tried to talk to them. Please don't let this stop you from seeking help. Have you looked into online counseling, such as GoodTherapy.org or TalkSpace.com (there are others as well). Not everyone can easily go to a doctor or therapist, and these services offer a way to do it when there are barriers in the way. These services are given by qualified professional therapists. It might be worth looking into. As far as medication, I can't assess whether it would be helpful for you. Each person is unique, and everyone reacts differently to medication, plus there are so many different medications for anxiety and depression. Doctors and a small handful of other healthcare professionals are the only ones who can safely help with medication. Perhaps look into online therapy and see if seeing a doctor for medication would enhance therapy. This anxiety and possible depression probably feel miserable now, but they don't have to last forever.
Thank you for this post. I think I have been experiencing anxiety as far back as I can remember. The thing is I was sexually abused by a very close family member when I was very young and so I don't know if that's where this depression/anxiety stems from. Even the rain bothers me. I worry about everything that's going on in the world. Its like I don't know who I am. I just need to find myself so I can live a meaningful life.
Anxiety and depression can indeed stem from the abuse you experienced. In counseling, there are different attitudes, stemming from different things research indicates (there are no single, simple answers when it comes to humans!). Some believe that it's important to resolve issues from the past abuse before moving forward. Others say that's not important and can be harmful. I think both have a degree of truth depending on the person. To me, it also seems like you have found your own path to dealing with anxiety and depression, and you might not realize how important your words are! You said that you don't know who you are and you need to find yourself so you can find a meaningful life. Right on!!! :) Your words resonate with me because I really believe in that approach. What happened to you is terrible, Give yourself a chance (and time) to explore yourself/your life. What brings you meaning? What are your values and passions? What little things can you do every day to incorporate them into your life, piece by piece. You just might find that you replace anxiety and depression with purpose and joy. (A good starting point might be to look at your character strengths. Check out http://www.viacharacter.org/www/ if you'd like to know more about your strengths.
I can confidently say that yes, I do think you will get back to yourself. It probably doesn't feel like it right now, but this anxiety won't last. You got over it before, and you can do it again. You might not know exactly what you did last time, but there were things that you did that worked. Typically, anxiety doesn't just randomly disappear. It might be worthwhile to think back to that time and see if you can identify things you did that worked, even if they're small. It's usually the small things that are the most powerful. The following link will take you to our section on anxiety self help. Down the left side is a list of all of the anxiety self-help articles. There might be information in there that could be useful to you. Be patient with yourself as you go through this process of beating anxiety. https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/anxiety/what-is-anxiety-self-help/
One last thing. Anxiety does make people go from one extreme to the other in a matter of months. That's one of the things that is so horrible about it. Remember that you do care. This anxiety is just blocking your positive feelings because it has taken over. That doesn't mean that you aren't the same person underneath!
Obsessive thoughts can really take over, exactly as you describe. Because they're so disruptive, they aren't easy to get rid of. But the good news is that you can, over time, get rid of them and live your life without being so affected by them. Working with a therapist is typically the most effective way to deal with obsessive thoughts. If you don' t have easy access to professional therapists, there are good options becoming available online such as talkspace.com or goodtherapy.org. With support, you can overcome obsessive thoughts.
I would never try to give a diagnosis this way or even try to fully explain because without knowing him, my doing that could be really harmful. So this isn't a diagnosis! :) But I'll make the observation that what you describe could be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD is complex, and there are many criteria that have to be met for OCD to be diagnosed. What I noticed were his thoughts about negative consequences happening if he doesn't complete a problem. While this can only be diagnosed by a professional, you and he might want to do some reading about OCD to see if it is fitting. If not, then you've ruled something out and can go back and look at other symptoms. HealthyPlace has a lot of articles/info on OCD. This link takes you to the page that has all of the articles linked: https://www.healthyplace.com/ocd-related-disorders/
Overthinking seems to be a human trait. Then, get anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD in the mix, and it can quickly feel chaotic and out of control. It's definitely exhausting. Have you considered working with a professional therapist? Doing so can help you get to the root(s) of the problem and then find ways to overcome it that are tailored to your unique personality and situation? While you are finding the right therapist, you can do things like practicing mindfulness to keep your attention focused on what you are doing in the moment rather than remaining focused on racing thoughts. All three of the things you're dealing with are likely contributing to overthinking. It's a lot! So do consider working with a professional.
Anxiety that lasts so long can be so frustrating and disheartening. The anxiety is stubborn. It finds a way to get to you, and it won't let go. It is often helpful to work with a therapist of other mental health professional when it comes to chronic anxiety. You can receive fresh insights and tools to reduce your anxiety. The article Chronic Anxiety: Managing Chronic Anxiety Symptoms might have some useful insights: https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/gad/chronic-anxiety-managing-chronic-anxiety-symptoms/
Anxiety and negative thinking really can wreak havoc on our lives. Believe it or not, you are already moving in the direction of overcoming this because you have such great insight into what's going on. This insight doesn't always come easily, but without it it's even more difficult to move forward. This is a big deal. Own it! :)
There are different approaches that research shows to be effective with anxiety and overthinking/negative thinking. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and solution-focused therapy (sometimes called solution-focused brief therapy or SFBT) are all approaches that have been shown to be successful. One isn't necessarily better than the others because people are so unique. Something that works great for someone won't work at all for someone else. You might want to start by just searching for information about these approaches (HealthyPlace has articles about all of them, and there are many other sources of info, too). This will give you a starting point. Working with a therapist can be very helpful, too.
This is a process more than a quick-fix. Think of it as a journey toward creating the life you want to live!
Dealing with relationships and the fear of breaking up with someone you care about is very stressful and anxiety-provoking. With such strong feelings, it is often helpful to work through them with a professional counselor, either in person or online. A counselor can help you address your emotions and things that might be causing them as well as to move forward in the direction that is right for you.
The fear of death is one of the top fears that people have. So you're not alone in this! A therapeutic approach that is helpful with fears like this is acceptance and commitment therapy. You work with a therapist (working with a therapist is ideal, but if it's not possible you can use books or other resources) to learn how to accept things that can't be changed, like death, and then learn to live how you want to live in order to get the most out of your life in each moment. It's not a quick-fix, but it is a very good "fix" for things like the fear of death. You can overcome this fear, or at least make it a lot less bothersome.
Thank you for saying that you hope I'm feeling well. That was nice! I am feeling well - but often tired. :) Overthinking is very maddening, and when anxiety makes us worry so much, it can feel like the worries will come true and anxiety will never leave. Those thoughts aren't accurate but instead are a product of anxiety. If you are having thoughts about wanting to die, call or go online and chat with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. It's in the US, but it is possible to chat with them online if you can't call. If you're not in the US, then can usually help connect you with resources where you are. If you're in the US, they'll still connect you with resources. They are at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or 1-800-273-8255. Please know that your experience with anxiety and overthinking don't have to last, and anxiety won't kill you no matter how it makes your body feel. It can feel like a heart attack, asthma, and so much more, but it isn't. Of course, getting checked by a doctor to rule out health problems is a good idea. But anxiety itself won't kill you.
Thank you so much for your words. You gave me a boost today! :) As for medication, your hesitation makes sense. The answer to your question is yes, you most definitely do have the right to decline! You can also seek second opinions at any time because doctors have different perspectives. Based on what you've written (I know there is a lot more to you than what's here, but I'll of course stick to just this), you might not even need to seek a second opinion at this point. That could come later *if* you begin to wonder if medication is worth trying. For now, it is perfectly reasonable and healthy to try other techniques to manage your anxiety before just jumping to medication. It's always your choice. Seek input and info, then do what you believe is best for you. You've got this!
I have a girlfriend right now and she’s breaking up with me i think it’s because of her anxiety and depression she always think about everything like everyone hates me i think its just because of that and she’s an pessimistic she always think that we won’t last long i want to give up on everything i dont want to live anymore. I just wanna die. One time she said there was a girl and that girl is helping her to do suicidal she said that that girl said to me don’t be scared it’s not painful its just easy. For me as her boyfriend i kept on saying to her that you should value your life, we can get through it trust me i know you can! I know i can we will face everything together. I always say that to her. But now she’s breaking up with uou what should i say to her? I think it’s just because of her attacks we don’t have problems to each other and it just happened like i dont want to continue this relationship im sorry i shouldn’t come back i know this gonna happen. I really really need you help! I dont know what to do with her she’s always like that she’s a suicidal and i dont want to loose her i love her so much!
What is terrible situation to be in. It sounds like you care about her a great deal. She's lucky! There are times when another person (your girlfriend) is experiencing extreme mental health difficulties, and because of those difficulties, they aren't receptive to what other people are telling them. She hears your words, but isn't actually processing them. That is not your fault. You might try giving her the information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255; suicidepreventionlifeline.org (there's an online chat service here). She quite likely needs professional help. You can express to her that you'll help her through this. She might not be in a position to listen/receive your support. If that's the case, you won't be betraying her and you're not a bad person if you step back. Give her some time and check in with her down the road a bit. Sometimes that's the best way to care for someone else and yourself.
Relationships can be difficult, and trust issues make things worse. This article might have some helpful ideas: Don't Let Anxiety Ruin Your Relationships - https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2017/02/unlucky-in-love-when-anxiety-interferes-in-relationships/
Thank you for leaving this inspiring comment. It's easy to feel that there is no hope, and your comment is going to be uplifting for so many. Congratulations on your 4 weeks clean! Not easy for so many reasons. Keep looking *forward* -- with the healthy perspective you have, you'll get to the light and beyond.