you rehash past conversations, dwell on your choices or get trapped in a
tunnel of “what if” scenarios, there’s a pretty good chance you’re an
This widespread rumination and over-obsessing has become somewhat of an epidemic. One study from the University of Michigan found that 73% of adults between the
ages of 25 and 35 overthink, as do 52% of 45- to 55-year-olds.
Interestingly, research has found that many overthinkers believe they’re actually doing
themselves a favor by cycling through their thoughts. But the truth of
the matter is that overthinking is a dangerous game that can have a lot
of negative consequences on our well-being.
As David Spiegel, the director of the Center on Stress and Health at Stanford Health
Care, puts it, “There are times when the worry about the problem is a
lot worse than the problem itself.”
Here’s what happens to your body when you overthink:
creates so many options, choices and scenarios that you end up unable
to make a decision — a concept called analysis paralysis.
could get stuck in potential consequences that may not even happen,
just worrying about certain outcomes, and that can paralyze us or freeze
us from taking an action,” said Rajita Sinha, the director of the Yale Stress Center.
you don’t try things, you don’t fail, which may be a potential concern ―
but you also don’t succeed, she added. When you do finally move forward
with a decision, you might wind up making the wrong one because you got
so mixed up by all the competing thoughts.
gut feeling or instinct gets overridden because you have so much other
input … and you maybe end up not making the choices that are right for
you in that moment,” said Laura Price, a clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health.