Feature Archive

9 Steps to End Chronic Worrying

Experts explain how to reduce excessive worrying that can have mental and physical effects.

By Denise Mann
WebMD Medical News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Are you a worry wart? A nervous Nellie? Do you constantly fret about everything and anything from your health to how you are perceived at work to whether or not a terror strike is imminent?

If this sounds like you, then you may be worrying your life away. This excessive worry doesn't just affect your mental health; it also can wreak havoc on your physical well-being. That's why WebMD spoke with experts about the reasons some of us worry excessively—and ways to break this cycle and regain your life.

Who Are the Worriers?

Why are some people so prone to "what if disease," while others merely worry about something when it happens?

There are several reasons, explains Robert L. Leahy, PhD, the author of The Worry Cure: 7 Steps to Stop Worry From Stopping You and the director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy in New York City.

"There is a genetic component," he says. "There are also nurture or non-nurture factors."

For example, people who come from divorced homes are 70% more likely to have generalized anxiety disorder—characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, and tension.