There are also different types of overthinking that a person might engage in. Many of these are caused by cognitive distortions, which are negative or distorted ways of thinking.
This type of overthinking involves only seeing situations in black or white. Instead of looking at both the good and the bad, you might analyse an event only in terms of it being a total success or a total failure.
This type of overthinking involves thinking things are worse than they are. For example, you might fear that you will fail an exam. This then leads to worry that you will fail the class, which will then lead to failing school, not getting a degree, and not being able to find a job. This type of over-thinking sets you up to worry about unrealistic worst-case scenarios.
This form of overthinking happens when you base a rule or expectation for the future on a single or random event from the past. Instead of accepting that different outcomes are possible, you might assume that certain things will “always” or “never” happen. In this case, overgeneralizing one event from the past to every event in the future often leads to overthinking and worrying about things that might never occur.
Effects of Overthinking
Overthinking is not a mental illness, and while overthinking can make you anxious, it is not necessarily the same thing as anxiety. However, it can often play a role in the development and maintenance of several mental health conditions. Some disorders that are associated with overthinking include:
· Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
· Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
· Panic disorder
· Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
· Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
Overthinking can have a bidirectional relationship with mental health issues. Stressful events, depression, and anxiety can make people more prone to overthinking, and then this overthinking contributes to worse stress, anxiety, and depression.
Finding a way to break out of this cycle can often help relieve some symptoms of these conditions.
Overthinking can also take a serious toll on relationships. Assuming the worst and jumping to incorrect conclusions can lead to arguments and conflicts with other people. Obsessing about every little thing other people do and say can also mean that you misunderstand what they are trying to convey.
It can also lead to relationship anxiety, and behaviours like constantly needing reassurance or attempting to control other people. Such behaviour can harm your relationships with others.