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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 20 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.

Alice
says:
September, 18 2019 at 6:25 am
Hi.
Reading all of these posts about anxiety and overthinking has made me feel a lot less lonely. I’ve struggled with overthinking for years and it has progressively worsened and is now a huge problem I have to face everyday. I constantly seek reassurance for everyone especially my partner and I will seek reassurance every single day if I have to. It just makes me feel better but only for a few hours and then the thoughts will come back again. I sometimes spend about 10 hours a day writing down or playing past events in my head and I have to make myself remember everything I have said or done or what the other person has said until I have it clear in my head. Even once I’ve remembered everything I’ll think about it again and again. These thoughts will go on for such a long time and then they lead to other thoughts and then I have to worry about why I’m thinking those new thoughts. I didn’t use to talk to people about my thoughts or about feeling anxious because I felt like it would leave me in a vulnerable position. I feel like people can see in my head sometimes and it’s scary cause it’s like they’re judging me. I always feel guilty too and beat myself up about things. I always feel that I don’t deserve to be happy especially when I’m eating. I know a lot of these problems have been triggered by stuff from the past. I’ve opened up about my problems to family members so many times but I don’t get much response or they don’t really think that it’s that serious when it really is. I will sometimes go days without being able to eat or go out the house. I spend the day worrying about the past or what will happen in the future and then when it’s finally time to go to sleep I tell myself I’m just being stupid yet again and then when it’s morning all the thoughts come back and it’s just the same as the day before.

I’m definitely going to try this advice as I want this continuous cycle to end!

Cay
says:
September, 19 2019 at 6:54 pm
Hi Alice, I have been struggling with the same problem as you and reading your comment made me feel like I wasn’t alone...I want to make it stop.
Lee
says:
September, 10 2019 at 11:09 am
I had a chance to move recently, it was an opportunity to change my life style. I life on the outskirts and don't see people as much as I'd like. I started taking online college courses which just increased that. A month or two in I had a chance to sell my house, make some money and move into the city into a nicer house, which did have some issues. It was about a 6 month process of me deciding if it was the right move, making pros and cons lists, getting my house ready; Hoping that this new house would stay available, and it did, partially due to some of its minor off putting issues. But I decided to go for it. I was looking forward to be closer to family, I was tired of the commute and the self isolation that I had created for myself.(Granted, I have a nice picturesque chunk of land). I made an offer; they agreed; I signed the papers. For some reason I began to overthink every aspect, all of the issues of that house that I had never found to even be a worry, and I pulled out last second. I know I overthought the fears of people viewing my house, me being busy with school and all that. I also unfortunately began to drink regularly during this period, which I never had before. It was a 5 to 6 month process of me seeing the house to when I made an offer an backed out.
A month or two after backing out school began to become much easier to deal with. I began to feel a deep, deep regret and shame for having backed out. I was still craving this change in life-style that I had imagined, and passed on an opportunity that I myself worked so hard for out of an unknown fear. I felt regret and shame. Shame of having created all of the reasons to back out which were really just the fear of change. Shame that I wasn't mentally strong enough to get through that. I thought about it constantly and still do at times.
It has now been a year since I first saw that house; I have spent more time regretting my decision and overthinking it than I did preparing for the move and working toward it. I am just now starting to feel like I'm on an upswing. But I still will wake up picturing what it would be like, as if it is still something on the horizon. I came to a point where I realized I still need to maintain what I have and take care of it, and to begin to work toward what I am now more sure that I want. But it has been one of the hardest, longest years of my life. It's funny that a year ago I was worried about the upcoming challenge of college courses. They have paled in comparison to the strain from the overthinking and regret of my decision. It is still often the first thing I think of in the morning. I try to just move on with my day and remind myself to looking forward.
September, 10 2019 at 4:40 pm
Hi Lee,
I'm sorry to read of your year-long struggle with this anxiety. Purchasing a home and changing lifestyles are very big events, so your anxiety and even changing your mind when the time came to finalize the purchase make sense. I think your commitment to now moving on with your day and looking forward rather than back is incredible. Overthinking past decisions and regret can stop people in their tracks. As you already know, you can't change the past, but you can use it to shape your present and future. You feel very strongly about the past home opportunity. You can use that to shape your goals for the future. Begin to define exactly what you want, and then determine what steps to take to get it. Learn from the past deal, and take forward steps. It sounds like you've begun to do just this. Keep building on it!
Trish Stratton
says:
September, 18 2019 at 8:28 am
Good Morning Lee! I am so grateful you shared part of your journey. It is exactly what I needed to read this morning. I AM NOT ALONE! My story is identical except for the details. Its the process I identify with. I learn in reverse, meaning from the outside world I internalize to understand myself. Through other peoples story. In yours I found a HUGE peice of the puzzle....Fear of success. There isnt anything I have failed at that I have worked toward. My conscience has this ethical voice ( not self, them) that are chearleaders for my self sabatoging critic inside( my darkside, everyone has one). Today I dont feed it meat. Meaning that I do not give it any of my energy by not engaging with it. I acknowledge it, I say thanks for being there, now go kick rocks!!!! I then focus on whats in front of me. Sound crazy? I think u may know EXACTLY what I mean. We are EXACTLY where we are suppose to be at this very moment. What an amazing,extraordinary tool we have to use ( not bad experiences, incredible learning opportunities) to re-write our new chapter with. Thank you again! Always with Love!
Respectfully,
Trish Stratton
Val
says:
September, 8 2019 at 3:35 pm
Thank you for this article!
Overthinking is something I’m used to and I can manage it most of the time , but when it comes to some subjects it can become totally overwhelming.
For now I’m very focused about everything that could go wrong in the world (nature, life in general, change, future...) and as reading articles about this isn’t a way to see things positively, I’m just able to see everything black or white, there’s no balance anymore.
However, I know there’s a lot of good stuffs happening, improving the world in general, but it tends to be masked behind all those scary stuffs.
It makes me very anxious, tired and not able to work correctly anymore. Each time I try to distract myself, these thoughts are coming back and I don’t know how to see things and the future positively again.
And as you said, overthinking it makes it seems very real! Also, I try not to share these thoughts with other people, because sometimes they comfort me in my ideas rather than reassuring me.
But knowing these thoughts are also created by my anxiety can help. Do you have some advices on how to cope with it?
September, 10 2019 at 4:26 pm
Hi Val,

Thinking about the state of the world and what could go wrong really is overwhelming and exhausting. Your remark about only seeing black and white and not seeing balance could be a great starting point to help tame some of this very normal anxiety. (The world is indeed full of scary things, and it's causing or increasing anxiety in people of all ages.) Think of actions you could take, little things you can do here and there to add color to the black and white. This can be literal--actual color--or symbolic. What could you do to shift your thoughts about the world, or if they don't budge, what other thoughts and ideas can you add. Join a group with similar interests to yours (hiking, biking, knitting, reading, etc.) use MeetUp or a local newspaper, community center, etc. to find these groups. Getting together with people who have common interests can lead to great new connections and some light-hearted activities. You can talk about many things other than what's bothersome about the world. And when the topic comes up, maybe you might gain new perspectives, new ways of thinking that could reduce your anxiety and tendency to overthink. Doing positive, enjoyable things is often the best way to deal with overthinking. Actions speak louder than anxious thoughts!
Suzanne Benner
says:
August, 30 2019 at 1:06 am
Hello, thank you for your caring and advice to those of us who suffers from anxiety. I am 50 yrs old and have Bipolar disorder. I've been seeing a wonderful psychiatrist for 13 years and have been relatively stable; if I have an acute situation I sign myself into a hospital. I am medication compliant and have never used illigal substances and am proud of myself for that. I go to therapy. But here's the issue....no matter what, I still suffer from anxiety and over thinking. My over thinking/anxiety is feels deeper or more "secret" than any other type of anxiety I've heard of...I worry and obsess over the big things (I have since I was little) like why did our Creator create a world where everyone must suffer? Why do animals have to suffer at the hands of humans and eat each other and endure pain?.....is the Creator really that cruel? Why do we have to endure our loved ones dying, or even just...what is the point to all of this anyway? Why are we on this Earth if we all suffer and die anyway? I hope reincarnation isn't a reality; I don't want to repeat this cycle. I get angry at the idea of a so-called Higher Power- I feel like I could've done a better and more humane job of creating the Universe...and what is reality anyway? And on it goes. I think these deep thoughts all the time. How can I possibly stop my way of thinking? I used to be spiritual when I was young, but I'm so angry and depressed about why reality must be this way, why suffering even exists. Thanks for reading this.
September, 3 2019 at 6:15 pm
Hi Suzanne,

As I read your comment, I smiled. Not because I think your struggle with higher issues is funny, but because these thoughts, while highly frustrating (an understatement) are an indication of someone who is deeply in tune with life, so much so that you see beyond simple black and white. This means that you can use your thinking to reduce your anxiety about it. (It might stop completely, but you can come to terms with it and use it to create meaning in your life.) You described existential anxiety perfectly. This article entitled Existential Anxiety, Stress, and Meaning-Making in Your Life discusses this in more detail and provides a couple of ways to deal with existential anxiety: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2015/04/existential-anxiety-stress-and-meaning-making-in-your-life

By the way, it sounds like you're doing very well and have effective ways of handling bipolar disorder. Keep doing what you're doing!

Suzanne Benner
says:
September, 9 2019 at 8:38 pm
Thanks for your kind response, Tanya. I really do feel better knowing that others understand...I guess part of anxiety is thinking that we alone think a certain way. I will certainly read up on existential anxiety, it sure parallels how my mind works. I'll also discuss this with my therapist. Deepest thanks!
Kathy
says:
September, 4 2019 at 4:17 am
Hi!
I have had questions like that myself. You said you were spiritual as a child. That could mean a different things? I was just listening to an explanation of some thoughts I was having this morning. I listened on YouTube about the synopsis of the chapter Ecclesiastes In the Bible. It helped me. I have been studying the Bible for some time though so it may be just more confusing and questioning for you.
I’m so sorry you are spinning on such thoughts.
Aleea
says:
August, 27 2019 at 1:00 am
Hi, I’ve been struggling with very bad anxiety for a while now. It started off from little things like not wanting to touch door nobs to washing my hands constantly then it started to progress very fast. I noticed that things that made me feel insecure or feel upset started to constantly roam in my head non stop to the point where I would have panic attacks and cry because I didn’t know how to stop the constant overthinking. Now, it’s gotten even worse to where I can’t accept change. Just a few days ago I gave a bank statement away to my college for proof of where I live and now I can’t stop thinking what if I gave them another paper so that I can still have it or what if I didn’t take it at all then I wouldn’t be worrying. I tend to blame myself a lot now when it comes to change and I beat myself up constantly asking myself what if. My brain hurts, I’m tired of living this way and I feel as if I have no way out. I have no clue on how to train my mind to stop any of this. I would love any type of advice.
August, 28 2019 at 5:25 pm
Hi Aleea,
While I would never try to diagnose you, I'll simply observe that much of what you describe sounds like components of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Have you considered seeing a therapist just to talk things through and see what might be going on? With what you mentioned, including the fact that things are worsening, it could be worth a try. There are many things that can be done to help OCD. It's difficult to train your mind on your own (it is for anyone because obsessions and compulsions can be so strong), but in working with a therapist, you can learn to manage and overcome your symptoms. This link takes you to the HealthyPlace OCD community page, which has links to articles about OCD. You might check out these resources to see if you think OCD makes sense to you. https://www.healthyplace.com/ocd-related-disorders
Ben
says:
July, 30 2019 at 5:45 pm
thanks to you i've been able to copy many things for life and health. My question is I was born in Arabia a wilderness place there. We had to stay for a couple of years after returning to Kosovo. I was better off after going green for 5 years and I was fine until I started waiting i have trouble breathing with fear and exhaustion for 3 months and i realized it was anxiety reaction i dont know if it was a psychologist or what but i said you can take the drugs for anxiety but it was better to go it alone and i did not play. I took the drugs for 2 months and I was fine I had a little trouble breathing but I knew it was only anxiety until one day negative thoughts started for the place where I lived since I didn't like the road, the shops, the slopes, and so on. it was a wilderness I could not get out of my mind but then I start for anyone who does not like good things not only negative and then I went to school psychologist had no time to deal with me and so I profoundly thoughts just stick with us after spending a little time sleeping a little better I was not alone and 3 weeks I was ok then started thinking once and stopped again now i am fine but my question is if i used the drugs at first that it didn't happen to me that there is also a family that has symptoms like me but she has used drugs and has no negative thoughts but now it is late will she leave? that my hope is that i'm 17 years old and not the age that made me do this. small for cartoons but didn't last long and i forgot in the first letter when i mentioned helping you but i didn't mention all to let you know i just moved a little overseas and i'm afraid that thoughts will start there and I have nothing to do. thank you so much for helping us if i had the opportunity to embrace it i would love it.
July, 31 2019 at 4:56 pm
Hi Ben,
It makes a lot of sense that you are experiencing anxiety off and on. You have had many big experience in just 17 years. Everything adds up to cause anxious thoughts and anxiety reactions in your body (like difficulty breathing). You asked about the anxiety drugs and whether they caused your current anxiety/anxious thoughts. Every person is different, and so is every medication. It is difficult to tell if prior medication caused current anxiety. It is possible, but not certain. Either way, it might not matter. That was earlier. You can focus instead on your anxiety now. I'm sorry to read that the school psychologist didn't even try to help. Working with a counselor/therapist could help a great deal, including with your unpleasant memories from Arabia and your concern about your family. This article has information about what is available and how to find help: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/types-of-mental-health-counselors-finding-a-good-one. It takes patience and work, but you absolutely can overcome anxiety and live free from it.
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.
DT
says:
August, 25 2019 at 5:00 pm
This is how I’m feeling now !! I’m so scared 😱 I don’t know what to do . My doctor just prescribed me lorazepam but I don’t think it’s helping. I went on google and look up mental illness and I convinced myself I have every mental illness that I read about . I can’t think straight or function . I’m so scared I almost feel like talking to a therapist won’t help me . I feel trapped in mind and don’t feel like my normal self . I have never felt like this before in my life !!! I was just a normal person !! Until I had a panic attack 1 month ago and went on google to look up symptoms.
August, 28 2019 at 5:06 pm
What a horrible experience this last month must have been. Panic attacks can really throw people--and their mental health--for a loop. Seeking answers makes sense and is important. Google searches can actually create more anxiety than answers. You might be surprised about a therapist. They're there to help people sort things out no matter how jumbled and chaotic things seem. If you consider it as a possibility, think about what you'd like help with (it can be many things) rather than being past the point of help!
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.
MAUREEN ROBERTS
says:
August, 15 2019 at 9:17 am
Hello Ryan , sorry to be a little late in replying to you . Many people go through these endless questions. I was one of those people , but rest assured you will get over this .You have a questioning mind , which is a great thing , but it has just overstepped the mark , questioning things that no one really has the answers to. You are 100% sane ,I hope thet therapy with someone who understands what you are experiancing, wishing you all the best.
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!

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