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Monday, June 22, 2009

How to Stop Worrying: What is Chronic Worrying?

How to Stop Worrying:  What is Chronic Worrying?

Are you a chronic worrier?
With all the economic uncertainty in the world today, many people are worried. However, there's a difference between worrying about a specific problem that spurs you to take action vs. chronic worrying that can paralyze you.

Chronic worrying usually doesn't help. In fact, not only does it not help, it often gets in the way and can have physical as well as emotional consequences.

What is chronic worrying?
If you engage in chronic worrying, you have a negative habit of worrying most of the time. You might be constantly thinking about the "what ifs" in situations where you feel you don't have control. You might also be filled with negative thoughts, anticipating the worst in situations. Breaking the worrying habit can be as difficult as breaking any other habit.

If You Engage in Chronic Worrying, You Have a Negative Habit of Worrying Most of the Time

Why do people engage in chronic worrying?
There are so many reasons--we would need pages and pages to explore them. Let's explore some of the more common reasons:

The illusion of feeling prepared and in control: Many people feel that if they worry about a problem constantly, they'll be more prepared in case their worst fears come true. Of course, this is an illusion. However, this type of distorted thinking can make it very hard to give up chronic worrying.

Worrying as a learned behavior: For many other people, they grew up in a household where their parents worried constantly and, as young children, they integrated this type of thinking without even realizing it.

The need for absolute certainty in an uncertain world: Many people also have a hard time dealing with uncertainty. They need to know what will happen, when it will happen, and how it will happen with as close to 100% certainty as they can get. As a result, these people worry almost all of the time.

What are the consequences of chronic worrying? Chronic worrying can cause insomnia as you toss and turn all night (see my prior post on insomnia). Insomnia, in turn, has negative consequences for your overall health and well being.

One of the Consequences of Chronic Worrying Can Be Insomnia

Chronic worrying can deplete your energy and result in physical problems. For some people, chronic worrying can lead to excessive drinking and drug abuse as a maladaptive way to get relief from stress.

It can make you feel irritable and cause arguments between you and your partner or you and your boss. Unrelenting worrying can also lead to problems with depression (see prior post:  What is the Difference Between Sadness and Depression?). 

There are so many other consequences. Suffice it to say, constant worrying usually doesn't lead to anything good.

In my next post, I'll discuss what you can do to overcome chronic worrying.

I'm a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my web site: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, feel free to call me at (212) 726-1006.

Also, see my article:  How to Stop Worrying: Steps You Can Take

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