Overthinking is not a recognized mental disorder all by itself. However, research has found it's often associated with other mental health conditions, including: Depression. Anxiety disorders.
Overthinking is commonly associated with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), says Duke. GAD is characterized by the tendency to worry excessively about several things. “Someone can develop GAD due to their genes. Or it could be personality factors like the inability to tolerate uncertainty in life.
Traumatic events in the past, stress experienced in the present, and high pressures or demands of life can also be the cause of overthinking in someone. “The impact of overthinking if it occurs for a long time is one of them is declining physical health.
While overthinking itself is not a mental illness, it is associated with conditions including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance use disorders. Rumination can be common in people who have chronic pain and chronic illness as well, taking the form of negative thoughts about that pain and healing from it.
People who overthink things regularly, psychologists believe, are often those who may have larger self-esteem or acceptance issues, Dr. Winsberg explains. If you're constantly overthinking (more on that later), however, it may be a symptom of clinical anxiety and depression or even obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The two types of overthinking are rumination (which involves rehashing past events) and worrying (or hyperfocusing on an anxious concern about the future).
What does it mean to overthink? Overthinking — also referred to as rumination — is when you repetitively dwell on the same thought or situation over and over to the point it gets in the way of your life. Overthinking usually falls into two categories: ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
The Dangers Of Overthinking
It can take a serious toll on your well-being. Research says dwelling on your shortcomings, mistakes, and problems increases your risk of mental health problems. And as your mental health declines, your tendency to ruminate increases, which can lead to a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
If you can't break free from overthinking, consider getting professional help. Overthinking may be a symptom of a mental health issue, like depression or anxiety. On the flip side, it may also increase your susceptibility to developing mental health problems.
May trigger mental illness
Dwelling on your mistakes, problems and shortcomings increases your chances of being affected by mental health problems. Overthinking can set you up for a vicious cycle that is hard to break. It wreaks havoc on your mental peace and as you lose your peace of mind, you tend to overthink.
Activities like meditation, reading and taking a walk can help keep your stress levels down. “It's best to be proactive and build these activities into your routine,” says Duke. “They can reduce your baseline level of anxiety and make you less likely to overthink.”
Overthinking is also often associated with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and borderline personality disorder. To break the habit, Carroll says a good first step is to take note of what triggers your overthinking.
Worry is temporary.
There's a concerning situation (like COVID-19) and you worry about it. Worry prods you to use problem-solving skills to address your concerns. Anxiety is persistent, even when concerns are unrealistic. It often compromises your ability to function.
"Studies show that ruminating on stressful events can, over time, lead to anxiety and depression," warns Dr. Fowler. "From a mental health standpoint, anxiety can affect your ability to cope with everyday stressors, and depression results in sadness, loneliness and feelings of emptiness."
A root fear: Overthinking stems from a particular insecurity or root fear. This insecurity may be from childhood, a past relationship, or general low self-esteem or trust issues.
Overthinkers may put so much heart and soul into their relationships that they become concerned about the future. They may also end up assuming negative outcomes and jumping to incorrect conclusions, which can lead to arguments with their partners. They do obsess over the minutest of the details.
Instead, make them feel special with your behaviour and romantic gestures. An overthinker isn't crazy or toxic. They just think too much. If you are willing to put in the work and deal with this one tiny flaw, you can have an incredibly happy relationship.
Asking questions can help an overthinker process how they feel. If they're being quiet and it's obvious they're deep in thought, ask them what's on their mind. If they express an idea or thought, pepper them with follow-up questions to hear more about where they're coming from.
Low self-confidence is perhaps one of the most common causes of overthinking and has the ability to further diminish self-worth. Overthinking as a result of attempting to self-protect can often feel like our own personal mental hideaway.
Are you always waiting for disaster to strike or excessively worried about things such as health, money, family, work, or school? If so, you may have a type of anxiety disorder called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD can make daily life feel like a constant state of worry, fear, and dread.
Perhaps you unconsciously think that if you "worry enough," you can prevent bad things from happening. But the fact is, worrying can affect the body in ways that may surprise you. When worrying becomes excessive, it can lead to feelings of high anxiety and even cause you to be physically ill.