Not many people think about overthinking, which is ironic, since those who overthink are too preoccupied with overthinking to notice just how damaging their overthinking can be. Overthinking occurs when a person continues to dwell relentlessly on one scenario, subject, or problem to the point of exhaustion. Some people might consider overthinking to be some form of obsession, and in some way, it is. Overthinking relates to perfection—how a situation or problem, either in the future or in retrospect, can be handled to produce the highest-desired results.

But ultimately, overthinking causes people to become detached from the present moment. Moreover, if the subject that he or she is ruminating over is of a particularly negative nature, than that person’s attitude can eventually change for the worse. They might begin to develop feelings of guilt or depression over a past situation, or even second-guess their decisions or actions in that situation.

However, constant rumination causes situations, good or bad, to become blown out of proportion. For instance, a combat veteran may overthink about how they could have rescued a fallen comrade when they had the opportunity. While “hindsight is 20/20,” these veterans can over-analyze the situation until they have completely pinned the guilt and fault on themselves, even if it isn’t entirely true.

Overthinking is an indirect symptom that can be caused by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs reports that one in five combat veterans develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, either during or shortly after combat. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as having three main categories of symptoms: “re-experiencing symptoms,” “avoidance symptoms,” and “hyperarousal symptoms”. These categories can be simplified to describe symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, feeling of guilt and depression, and insomnia, respectively.

So how can overthinking be combatted? Meditation and yoga—exercises that stress remaining in the present moment, can certainly assist in deterring a person from thinking about past or future problems/situations. However, for deeper-set issues of guilt and depression, cognitive-behavioral therapy and even psychiatric medication can be extremely beneficial.

However, should be wary of seeking such therapy from the VA, since reports released by CBS News in 2013 revealed that medical professionals associated with the VA prescribed 259% more narcotics than in 2002, and that individualized therapy had fallen by the wayside. A medical practitioner associated with the VA anonymously admitted to CBS News in a TV interview that “it is easier to write a prescription for narcotics and to just move along and get to the next patient” so that more veterans would be “treated”. Therefore, ailing veterans might want to consider consulting non-associated medical facilities to rehabilitate their physical and mental health.

One of those organizations is Operation: I.V, a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2012 that helps combat veterans heal from both PTSD as well as traumatic brain injuries. Its founder, Roxann Abrams, is a Gold Star Mother who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams in 2009. Randy took his own life after experiencing a PTSD flashback from his service in Iraq. Randy had undiagnosed PTSD- a common occurrence among combat veterans either due to mistakes made by the medical field or simply the individual’s failure to report such grave symptoms.

As a result of her son’s death, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. so that combat veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have a place to receive treatment through a specialized “VIP”, or “Veteran Intervention Plan” program. “VIP” offers ten different rehabilitation programs, including hyperbolic oxygen therapy, service dogs, and anxiety reduction therapy. Additionally, veterans may also partake in programs such as job retraining, business mentoring, and educational assistance. Again, while there is no cure for PTSD, the programs provided by Operation: I.V. can drastically improve a veteran’s mental health and overall outlook on life!

Author's Bio: 

Abigail Fazelat is a contributing writer for Operation: I.V., a non-profit organization founded by Gold Star Mother Roxann Abrams who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams to PTSD. Randy took his own life after experiencing a wartime flashback- an experience not uncommon to any combat veteran. As a result, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. as an “intravenous of help” for other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and contemplating suicide. Fazelat has worked for the organization since October 2013 under a pseudonym.