From The Wall Street Journal:
When Penelope Malone got a traffic ticket recently, she says she fretted about it 24/7 for a month. Many nights she bolted awake with worry around 4 a.m., “like a piece of toast coming out of the toaster,” she says.
The ticket’s penalty? About $200.
“I am the world’s biggest worrier,” says Ms. Malone, a 63-year-old retired payroll company manager from Atlanta. “I get fixated on certain things and cannot get them out of my brain.”
Good news for worrywarts: New research illuminates what leads to excessive worrying—and what can be done to stop it.
For most people, worrying is a form of problem-solving where you look at challenges in the future and work them out before they happen, which can be constructive. Researchers call this adaptive worrying and have identified the top five areas that people worry most about: relationships, finances, work, lack of confidence and an “aimless future.”
But some people worry too much. Chronic worriers fret all the time, about everything. Pathological worriers are chronic worriers whose apprehension affects their functioning. They’re just as likely to fret over a real problem, such as a job setback, as they are to stew over something that may not be a problem at all, say the weather next week.
. . . .
How we learned to cope with threats as a child, whether our parents reassured us and what traumas we’ve been exposed to all affect how much we worry. And although worry is closely tied to anxiety, Dr. Davey says, it differs in that it is largely cognitive, while anxiety has a strong physiological component.
New research by Dr. Davey and colleagues, reviewing more than 50 scientific studies on worry and published in December in the journal Biological Psychology, shows that people who worry excessively believe that if they don’t agonize over every aspect of an event or challenge, something bad will happen.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)