What Is Overthinking Disorder? How To Cope With Anxiety And Overthinking

Updated August 03, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Robin Brock

Have you ever felt like you can’t escape your thoughts? Do you find yourself telling others that you “think too much” and wish you could stop overthinking? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us tend to overthink, and it can become detrimental at a certain point. So, what do you do if you want to stop overthinking? Read on to learn more about overthinking and how to combat the habit of overthinking.

What Is Overthinking A Symptom Of?

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There is no such thing as an overthinking disorder. However, anxiety and overthinking are common concerns, and the tendency to overthink can be affiliated with multiple diagnosable mental health conditions. Overthinking is a symptom of a variety of mental disorders, including anxiety disorders. When someone talks about “overthinking disorder,” they may actually be referring to an anxiety disorder or other disorders that can lead to obsessions, intrusive thoughts, or compulsive behaviors. Overthinking is often counterintuitive when solving problems in your life, so if you want to stop overthinking, know that you’re taking a positive step. Recognizing anxiety and overthinking is the first thing you need to do to combat these problems, and by doing so, you’re already part of the way there!

How Do You Treat Overthinking Disorder?

Since the overthinking disorder is not a diagnosable or recognized mental health condition, there isn’t treatment designated for it. However, you can stop overthinking, and there are ways of treating anxiety disorders that can help someone who tends to overthink.

When you want to stop overthinking, it is a process, so be sure not to beat yourself up. It is easy to get into the habit of overthinking, but it is possible to break that habit. Many forms of mental health therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can help you work through difficulties surrounding overthinking. In therapy, you’ll find a wide variety of skills that will help you to stop overthinking, including but not limited to mindfulness, radical acceptance, and challenging cognitive distortions. If you’re in a situation where you cannot currently get into therapy or want to work on overthinking outside of therapy, there’s an abundance of CBT workbooks and free CBT worksheets online as well as CBT or mindfulness apps you might find helpful. You can print out free CBT worksheets from a variety of websites and use them at home. Your therapist may be able to give you homework to help you stop overthinking what you can work on outside of sessions.

How Can I Divert My Mind From Overthinking?

Distractions can help you stop overthinking at times, and they can be an excellent tool for those who struggle with both anxiety and overthinking. The distractions you choose will vary depending on your personality type, what’s fascinating for you as an individual, and what’s engaging enough to get your mind off of anxiety and overthinking truly. If you want to stop overthinking, here are some healthy distractions that you can try:

  • Journaling
  • Physical activity or exercise
  • Watching a movie or TV show
  • Art, such as painting or drawing
  • Reading a book
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Calling a friend or family member

How Do I Stop My Brain From Overthinking?

Therapy for anxiety disorders or overthinking can help you stop overthinking and can help you cope with overthinking more effectively when you do overthink. If you believe that you may have an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety, you may be driven to take an anxiety disorder test to gauge what you might be dealing with. Online quizzes can help you get a sense of your symptoms, but it is not a replacement for diagnosis and treatment from a medical or mental health professional. If you find yourself overthinking regularly, an anxiety disorder or another mental health condition could very well be what you’re experiencing. A psychiatrist would be the best person to go to if you struggle with overthinking anxiety or symptoms of another mental disorder such as bipolar disorder. They can evaluate you for a mental health condition and provide treatment or give you a referral to a therapist if you’d like one.

Although the overthinking disorder is not a real condition, overthinking is a real issue that can substantially impact your quality of life. If you tend to overthink and notice yourself overthinking regularly, it is crucial to reach out. You can use methods to help yourself with overthinking outside of therapy, such as self-help books, self-help videos from professionals in the mental health field online, and CBT or DBT worksheets. If “overthinking disorder” or anxiety and overthinking are impending issues in your life, seeking support from a professional is your best bet. Therapies such as CBT are often short-term, so don’t be afraid that you’ll be in treatment for the rest of your life. Therapy will help you gain skills to cope with “overthinking disorder” or anxiety and overthinking.

What Is The Root Cause Of Overthinking?

Often, the root cause of overthinking is an underlying mental health condition, such as an anxiety disorder. The reason for this is that anxiety and overthinking often go hand-in-hand. Another mental health condition that can come with overthinking is bipolar disorder. When taking in information about bipolar disorder, we often think of the periods of depression and mania or hypomania that it’s characterized by. Depression can, at times, cause you to ruminate or overthink. You may ruminate over depressive symptoms, circumstances in your life, or the feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness that can come with depression. While conditions like depression and bipolar disorder come with challenges, it is possible to live a full life with bipolar disorder and depression. Many people with bipolar disorder find that seeing a therapist and psychiatrist helps them manage their condition effectively.

It’s also important to note that those with a history of one mental disorder are more likely to live with other mental health conditions. Struggling with mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders can put you at an increased risk for other medical or mental health conditions such as eating disorders. Research indicates that anxiety and eating disorders are often co-occurring, and eating disorder sufferers are more likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Some common eating disorders include bulimia, anorexia, OSFED, and BED. Eating disorders themselves can come with anxiety and overthinking; they may cause you to ruminate on your body, health, and eating behaviors. Eating disorders are severe conditions, so if you believe that you may have an eating disorder or even disordered eating, it is vital to reach out for help.

How Do I Stop Unnecessary Thoughts?

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When it comes to anxiety and overthinking, you can face a lot of unhelpful intrusive thoughts. There are ways to work through these thoughts. Here’s how to cope with thoughts that are affecting you negatively:

  • Notice what triggers your anxiety or overthinking
  • Use positive distractions such as meditation, art, exercise, or something else that you enjoy.
  • Use positive self-talk
  • Work on mindfulness exercises provided to you by your therapist, an online search, a mindfulness app, or anywhere else
  • Break big tasks that may overwhelm you and cause overthinking in anxiety down into smaller pieces so that you don’t get overwhelmed
  • Set realistic deadlines for yourself
  • Communicate to your loved ones that you are trying to stop overthinking so that you can get support from them

Of course, if this is an issue in your life that you deal with regularly, seeking the help of a mental health professional such as a counselor or therapist is essential. If you’re trying to stop overthinking and feel overwhelming or impossible, a mental health provider can help. People overthink many different reasons, and it is nothing to be ashamed of, nor does it have to rule your life. You can work through “overthinking disorder” – instead, anxiety and overthinking – and develop coping skills not to be a pervasive issue in your life moving forward. Although it may seem impossible, studies show that it truly is possible to change your thought process and stop overthinking through methods like mental health counseling or therapy. Even if you’ve gotten into the habit of overthinking and can’t seem to picture a life without it, you can stop overthinking with time.

Why Do I Overthink?

Sometimes, people confuse overthinking with problem-solving. You may believe that you are helping yourself by overthinking when, in reality, it doesn’t actually help you solve problems if what you’re dealing with is indeed overthinking. It’s imperative to understand the connection between anxiety and to overthink if the underlying issue is an anxiety disorder. If overthinking is fleeting for you and it doesn’t happen often, it might be no big deal. However, if you overthink regularly and impact your life, there may be an underlying issue, such as an anxiety disorder. If you have anxiety, treatment for anxiety, such as counseling, could alleviate your overthinking and overall discomfort. Seeing a mental health professional can help you through generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders. If you believe that you may have a mental health condition such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression, it’s essential to talk to your general doctor or go to a psychiatrist for an evaluation.

Is Overthinking A Sign Of Anxiety?

Overthinking is a sign of multiple anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common mental health condition that impacts around 3.1% of individuals aged 18 or older in the United States alone. Signs of a generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Excessive worrying
  • Trouble focusing
  • Unwanted or intrusive thoughts
  • Rumination
  • Twitching, trembling or shaking.
  • Racing heart or heart palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • GI symptoms such as nausea
  • Stiffness or tension in the body
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability or agitation

The excessive worry that generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by might be what you’re actually experiencing when you say that you overthink or have overthinking disorder. While generalized anxiety disorder is common, it is not the only anxiety disorder. It’s also important to note that you can have more than one anxiety disorder. For example, you might battle both social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can also co-occur with other mental health conditions such as personality disorders like BPD and mood disorders like bipolar disorder.

Can We Control Our Thoughts?

We can’t control the initial thoughts that come into our heads, but we can create new thought patterns, and we can learn to radically accept our feelings and dismiss ideas that do not serve us. Over time, neural plasticity allows our brain to think more positively if we work on challenging negative thoughts and thought patterns. Positivity does not mean that you are happy all the time; often, what this looks like is gaining a better sense of intrinsic rationality. At first, when you are learning to stop overthinking or work through overthinking, you will have to do a lot of active work to challenge the thoughts you have that aren’t serving you. It’s essential to keep those skills handy if the situation arises again, but it will get easier over time. Something that can help is to learn to acknowledge thoughts and let them go, which is one thing that people with anxiety and overthinking often work on in therapy.

Help For Anxiety

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If you deal with overthinking, anxiety, or both, therapy can help. Counseling is shown to be beneficial for those experiencing mental health conditions, life stressors such as those related to work or education, relationship issues, and more. The mental health providers at ReGain are here to help individuals and couples with various concerns, including anxiety and overthinking, through online counseling. Search the network of mental health providers at ReGain and find the best fit for you.

Counselor Reviews

“I don’t know what I would have done without Harry. I was in a super low place and I was not sure what my problems were or how to solve them, but he was able to help me get to the bottom of my problems and work through them. Today I am happy and feeling like myself again. He was so easy to talk to and worked with me whenever I needed him. Even on vacation he took time to call me and talk through whatever I was going through. I would highly recommend him.”

"My experience with Priscilla has been immensely helpful in better understanding myself and providing me with the tools to see my life and relationships with more clarity and compassion."

References:

The Comorbidity Between Eating Disorders and Anxiety Disorders: Prevalence in an Eating Disorder Sample and Anxiety Disorder Sample

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