What Is Overthinking Disorder?
By Sarah Fader
Updated December 07, 2018
Overthinking is something that happens to everyone at some point -it's just a part of life. But if you find yourself constantly struggling against racing thoughts you can't control, you may be experiencing overthinking disorder.
Many people are familiar with the term anxiety disorder (and, in fact, millions of Americans suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder every day), but few have given much thought to or even heard of overthinking disorder, which often simultaneously affects people suffering from severe anxiety.
The simple definition of overthinking is to think about something too much or for too long. However, what this definition doesn't explain are the harmful effects overthinking can have on a person mentally and emotionally, as the subjects of excessive overthinking typically have some sort of negative connotation or meaning for whoever is suffering from this disorder. Therefore, the better definition of overthinking as it pertains to overthinking disorder would be excessive thoughts about something that causes one anxiety, stress, fear, dread, etc. It's not just thinking too much about something-it's thinking about something so much that it affects one's ability to fully function in their life.
If you believe you may suffer from overthinking disorder, you may have found that you've experienced one or more of these situations:
- Difficulty following along with and contributing to a conversation because you go over potential responses or statements time and again until the conversation has either ended or the window of opportunity for speaking was lost
- Continually comparing yourself to the people around you and how you measure up to them.
Focusing on worst-case scenarios either involving yourself or the ones you love
- Reliving past failures/mistakes over and over again, so you're unable to move past them
- Worrying about future tasks and/or goals until they feel almost impossible to accomplish
- Reliving a past traumatic experience (such as abuse or the loss of a loved one) leaving you unable to cope with it
- An inability to slow down the racing of vague thoughts, worries or emotions
No two people will experience overthinking disorder the same way. However, those who do experience it will all find that their quality of life is compromised by their inability to effectively control negative thoughts and emotions. This can make it more difficult to go out and socialize, enjoy hobbies, or be productive at work as their mind spends a disproportionate amount of time and energy on specific lines of thought. There's a sense that they don't have full control over their own minds or emotions, which can be very damaging to one's mental health.
If you've been struggling to stop overthinking it may be helpful to seek professional treatment. You can find help in many ways, but a convenient and private place to start is via an online counseling site like BetterHelp.com. There you will find access to licensed counselors ready to help you overcome your struggles with an overthinking disorder. You don't have to stop your thoughts by yourself. Trust an online therapist to guide you toward a healthier way of thinking about your life.