What is Overthinking Disorder, and Do I Have It?

Posted on - in Culture & Communication

It’s becoming much more accepted to talk about things like mental disorders. While they were once a private subject in the past, now people want them to be discussed.

As people talk about the varying disorders that people might have, everyone gets to learn more and potentially discover something new about themselves.

People may talk about anxiety a lot, but it’s often overlapped with overthinking disorder. If you haven’t heard about this disorder, read on to learn more about it and gauge whether or not it may affect your daily life.

When Overthinking Becomes Bad

At some point, everyone struggles with overthinking. It may start in grade school, when you go over and over an essay you’ve just finished to make sure it’s perfect before you turn it in.

It could look like an extra few minutes in a grocery store aisle, reading the nutrition label on a jar of spaghetti sauce and worrying about whether it’s good for you.

Overthinking is especially prominent in the workplace, where you’re faced with rapid fire decisions that people depend on.

It’s okay to overthink, even if it’s on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean you have a disorder. It just means that you’re human.

So when does overthinking become bad? It crosses a line when you catch your overthinking causing extreme amounts of fear, anxiety or stress. If it’s affecting your life, it’s more than just worrying.

What Overthinking Disorder Is

Before you try to diagnose yourself with overthinking disorder, make sure that what you’re feeling isn’t regular anxiety. The two often get confused, but there’s a fine line that separates them. Anxiety will cause symptoms like:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stomach pains
  • Headaches

Overthinking disorder may manifest itself by focusing too much on one thing and spending an extreme amount of time feeling more and more worried about one decision or another.

If you find yourself unable to pull away from one particular thought for long amounts of time without overwhelming fear or dread, you may be a candidate for overthinking disorder.

What Overthinking Symptoms Are

Symptoms will look different with every person, but you may have experienced some of the following situations.

You might worry about what you need to do in the near future until those normal tasks feel impossible.

You could obsessively remember past traumatic situations, reliving them without being able to make the thoughts stop.

Past mistakes may come back to haunt you on a daily basis. Remember them makes you feel immense amounts of shame and regret, no matter how small the mistakes actually were.

When your mind drifts off, you may imagine worst-case scenarios for things that will happen in your life. No matter how extreme the scenarios get, they feel completely realistic and inescapable to you.

Other common symptoms are:

  • Obsessing over how you’ll respond in conversations, causing you to drift off or miss a conversation entirely.
  • Measuring yourself against the people you know in every tiny way you can think of.
  • Imagining disastrous consequences for future mistakes.

Anxiety can make you feel stressed over anything, but overthinking disorder causes hyper-fixation in any situation.

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How to Treat It

The first thing you have to do to treat overthinking disorder is to learn how to recognize when it’s starting up again.

If you drift off during conversations to think about what you’ll say in reply, take the time to mentally tell yourself that you see what’s happening and you refuse to let it continue. Decide on what you’ll say and reassure yourself that you’ll be fine no matter what happens.

Think about times when your symptoms have appeared in the past and find a common initial reaction that you can recognize in the future.

After you know what to look for when this disorder flares up, practice healthy thinking strategies to combat the symptoms.

Try techniques like considering best-case scenarios if you’re worried about what could happen in the future. The best case scenario is equally likely as the worst case, so why not focus on that instead?

You can also work with the people closest to you to help you defeat the most common symptoms. Tell them how to recognize when things are getting bad and they’ll want to help if they really love and care for you.

You may not have considered this, but overthinking damages any relationship. It puts more stress on both people involved and may make the other person feel responsible for preventing the symptoms that can’t be helped.

Savor the Small Victories

Overthinking disorder can have a powerful grip on the lives of anyone who lives with this way of thinking. You didn’t choose to deal with this, so you can’t snap your fingers and suddenly not have it.

It’s going to take time and work to learn to live with this disorder if you think you have it. Working with the people you love is a great first step to take, but you also have to set small goals.

Every small step is a victory, so savor the moments where you’re stronger than your overthinking. That means cheering yourself on when you recognize that overthinking is starting. A victory could even be patting yourself on the back when you practice self care after pulling yourself from a state of overthinking panic.

Celebrate whenever you take another step forward towards owning your thoughts. Remember that sometimes symptoms will be powerful and you may not be able to stop them all, but practice and time will make you stronger than ever before.

Talk With Your Doctor

You can read about overthinking disorder all day long, but it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor or therapist to get professional advice. They may recognize different symptoms from your personal history and be able to point out other causes of what’s going on.

They’ll also be able to help you more specifically with managing your disorder, if you have one. Make an appointment to talk with them today if these symptoms feel familiar to what you go through every day.

There’s hope for people who have overthinking disorder. All it takes is a little courage to get some help and stand up to your thoughts.

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Kayla Matthews writes Productivity Theory and is constantly seeking to provide new tips and hacks to keep you motivated and inspired! You can also find her on Huffington Post and Tiny Buddha, and follow her on Google+ and Twitter to stay up to date on her latest productivity posts!

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