Harvard Health Letter

Do you worry too much?

Excessive worry is part of many mental health disorders and can lead to physical illness.

Sometimes it's smart to worry. It can force us to plan or to take safety precautions. Worry can lead to wellness. If we didn't worry some about our health, would we eat right and exercise? Probably not.

But worry can also escalate so it's excessive, chronic, or both — anything but healthful. It's a common thread running through many mental health disorders. In depression, worry may take the form of guilt (worrying about having done something wrong) or distress about feeling incompetent. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is well-known for its intrusive, uncontrollable fears of contamination and losing control. Health anxiety is excessive worry about becoming sick. The extreme form is hypochondriasis, which often involves seeking unnecessary care for imagined illnesses.

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