Excessive Worrying

Symptoms, Triggers, and Evidence-Based Counselling Options

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    We all experience worrying at some point. Worrying is a natural human emotion, whether you wonder if that presentation will go smoothly or if your security system will let you down. However, when even the most mundane activities create a deep-seated anxiety, it can impact daily life.

    Excessive worrying is common among adolescents and adults, but the effects can be debilitating. A Canadian study in 2012 revealed that 700,000 people over the age of 15 have symptoms of anxiety disorders, highlighting an ongoing problem (NCBI).

    Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce the symptoms and break the habit of negative thought patterns. Well Beings Counselling offers mental health support to people with excessive worrying through a range of targeted and bespoke therapeutic approaches.

    a young woman with anxiety who is excessively worrying about a test coming up at university

    What is excessive worrying?

    Worrying is completely normal, but when a person begins to worry about the smaller things and these thoughts take over their lives, it becomes an ongoing problem. For example, you will feel anxious if you have a big job interview or are preparing to take an exam.

    However, those worries will pass when you complete the task, with many individuals feeling invigorated to face – and conquer – their fears.

    When worrying causes you to become consumed with the little things, it can lead to severe mental health concerns and drastically impact your daily life.

    Examples of excessive worrying

    Excessive worry occurs in numerous forms, depending on your triggers and whether you experienced trauma. Let’s look at some examples where worrying affects your mental health.

    Ruminating on previous experiences

    Individuals who have experienced trauma in the past or a harrowing event might find they develop negative feelings about the future. For example, a previous robbery experience might lead to excessive worry that somebody will break into your house again.

    Performance anxiety

    Worrying about your performance is common in certain circumstances. However, some people find it impacts their ability to speak up and confidently approach tasks, causing them to fall behind.

    Catastrophic thinking

    People with catastrophic thinking patterns often consider the worst-case scenarios in everyday life. For example, a performance review coming up will immediately make them think of losing their jobs, or a simple car trip could result in life-changing injuries.

    Going over past actions

    If you constantly review past conversations and interactions, this could be a sign of excessive worrying. Thinking about what you said and how others perceived you might also prevent you from socializing in the future.

    Health concerns

    It’s natural to have general health concerns, but people with anxiety disorders tend to turn minor symptoms into significant problems and might repeatedly go to the doctor with fears of cancer or life-threatening conditions.

    The symptoms of excessive worrying

    Everyone reacts differently to excessive worry, and the symptoms can mirror that of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). While some individuals have mental symptoms, others might experience physical symptoms too, including:

    • Muscle tension
    • Sleep problems
    • Low mood
    • Trembling
    • Stomach issues
    • Racing thoughts
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Avoidant behaviours
    • Lethargy
    • Low motivation
    • Irritability

    Unfortunately, some individuals find ways to self-soothe when they worry excessively, which could mean using alcohol and drugs or going out of their way to avoid certain situations.

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    What causes constant worrying?

    Crippling anxiety can occur for numerous reasons, including both genetic and environmental triggers. Many people find they’ve dealt with some form of anxiety before, and this puts them more at risk of excessive worrying in the future.

    Let’s explore some of the causes in detail.

    Genetic factors and personality traits

    Due to helicopter parenting, parents who are natural worriers are more likely to have children who inherit these traits (Empowering Parents). Chronic worrying can also occur in people with Type A personalities, and introverts are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders.

    If you’re a perfectionist or prone to stress, it can lead to worrying about simple tasks, having a knock-on effect on your work and personal life.

    Childhood experiences

    Our childhoods define future thinking patterns and behaviours. People who experience stable and nurturing environments are more likely to become well-adjusted adults because they have emotional support. In contrast, those with unstable backgrounds tend to experience more anxiety.

    For example, if a child was neglected or abandoned, they might develop anxiety symptoms due to their negative experiences.

    Mental health issues

    Research from Johns Hopkins reveals that 1 in 4 people in the US suffer from a mental health issue. Whether it’s depression, a personality disorder, OCD or a psychiatric condition such as Bipolar, you’re more likely to worry excessively.

    One reason for this is that mental health is still quite stigmatized, and people with conditions have to manage them, which can result in high-stress levels.

    Past traumas

    If you’ve experienced a past trauma that resulted in significant distress, you’re more likely to experience negative thought patterns. However, stressful life events such as moving home, starting a new school or losing a loved one can also result in heightened worrying.

    Many people worry more in situations that remind them of the previous event, and their natural stress response results in a flight mentality.

    The risks of excessive worrying

    Excessive worrying can be debilitating in itself, but it can also lead to other conditions that drastically affect your mental health and lead to more severe conditions. It’s important to remember that your worrying can manifest in different ways, and this increases your risk of other anxiety disorders.

    Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

    GAD is characterized by persistent worrying over a variety of factors. Some might constantly obsess about money, while others could feel anxiety when performing daily activities. If your excessive worrying continues to develop and you don’t seek support, it could turn into a general anxiety disorder.

    Panic Disorder

    People with severe anxiety disorders can also experience frequent panic attacks, which can be harrowing experiences. Common symptoms during an attack include sweating, palpitations, problems breathing and feeling lightheaded, with many sufferers living in fear of the next attack.

    Other anxiety disorders

    The American Anxiety and Depression Association (ADAA) lists a range of disorders that fall under the anxiety umbrella, including social anxiety and agoraphobia. While social anxiety disorders impact your ability to form relationships, people with severe agoraphobia can’t leave their homes.

    Mental health conditions

    The effects of chronic anxiety and worrying can also lead to psychiatric disorders, such as depression and avoidant personality disorder. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be both a cause and effect of a worrying habit, with many people seeking help to control their intrusive thinking patterns.

    Physical illness

    Exaggerated worry can cause a range of physical symptoms and worsen over time. Common examples include stomach issues that turn into IBS and conditions that form due to heightened stress hormones. People with negative thinking patterns are more at risk of migraines and high blood pressure.

    Help and support for chronic worriers

    Prolonged and chronic worrying can have a severe impact on your ability to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, but there are ways to seek support and change negative thoughts.

    If you feel that even small tasks and events bring out a pattern of anxiety, getting help for your problems will equip you with the tools to navigate the condition successfully.

    Anti-anxiety medications aren’t a first line of treatment for excessive worrying, but it is an option should you develop a common anxiety disorder.

    Get matched with a counsellor that fits your needs.

    Seeking support from a mental health professional

    As with most mental disorders, excessive worry occurs due to your thinking patterns, and the key to treating it is changing those patterns. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) effectively establishes healthier ways of thinking and breaks old patterns.

    People who participate in the therapy learn valuable coping techniques that reduce stress and anxiety, enabling them to enjoy fuller lives.

    The best thing about this form of therapy is you can opt for online counselling, which enables you to explore your worries in a safe environment. Our talented therapists work with individuals and couples, helping them identify the problems holding them back and make lasting changes.

    Mindfulness

    Mindfulness is a powerful tool to utilize for any form of anxiety, with many adopters noticing positive – and sustainable changes (JAVA). The process requires you to focus only on the present, blocking out the past and future, which enables you to identify negative thoughts.

    Many counsellors are experienced with guiding their clients through mindfulness, but you can also use apps that promote deep breathing and relaxation techniques.

    Lifestyle changes

    Feeling anxious about developing a chronic illness can cause long-term effects. However, changing your lifestyle can make a significant difference if you want to stop worrying. For example, exercise boosts your endorphins, while a healthy diet can reduce the risks of numerous illnesses.

    When you feel good about your lifestyle, there’s less anxiety about health conditions. Quitting smoking and moderating your alcohol intake are also beneficial.

    Would you like to leave chronic worry behind you for good?

    Too much worry isn’t good for your body and mind, but help is available today. Well Beings Counselling has a range of dedicated professionals ready and willing to work with you. Whether you’d like online or in-person counselling, we operate across Canada.

    Please contact us today; we’ll help you choose the right counsellor.

    FAQ's

    Our counsellors can help you understand your condition, but other resources are available. If you can't find an anxiety support group in your area, the Anxiety Disorders Association has a lot of information on how to deal with anxious thoughts.

    If you'd like to explore mindfulness, downloading the Headspace App allows you to practice various exercises and focus on the present moment.

    Medications such as diazepam can be beneficial in managing the symptoms of anxiety, but they're also highly addictive. While a medical professional might prescribe anti-anxiety medication in severe cases, counselling is a long-term approach that focuses on changing negative thought patterns.

    Once you have valuable techniques, you can transform from a chronic worrier to a zen master.

    Absolutely. The only difference between online and in-person counselling is that you and your therapist aren't in the same room. However, people with ongoing anxiety find this approach beneficial as it allows them to seek support in a safe environment.

    Our counsellors are fully qualified professionals, and we guarantee you'll get the best possible treatment.

    Helping children stop worrying early in life ensures they can approach new challenges and opportunities with ease later on. Many of our qualified therapists specialize in working with children. Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information.

    No matter what you are struggling with, we are here for you.

    No matter what you are struggling with, we are here for you.

    Pareen Sehat MC, RCC

    Pareen Sehat MC, RCC

    Pareen’s career began in Behaviour Therapy, this is where she developed a passion for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approaches. Following a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Psychology she pursued a Master of Counselling. Pareen is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. She specializes in CBT and Lifespan Integrations approaches to anxiety and trauma. She has been published on major online publications such as - Yahoo, MSN, AskMen, PsychCentral, Best Life Online, and more.

    References

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