Overwhelm is a 20-foot wave crashing into you. Repeatedly. Psychologist Marla W. Deibler, PsyD, described overwhelm as “feeling completely overcome in mind or emotion.” When we think a stressor is too great for us to manage, we feel overwhelmed, she said.
Feeling overwhelmed has many faces. According to Deibler, overwhelm might manifest as an intense emotion, such as anxiety, anger or irritability; maladaptive thought process, such as worry, doubt or helplessness; and behavior, such as crying, lashing out or experiencing a panic attack.
Anxiety seems to be the most common, according to L. Kevin Chapman, Ph.D, a psychologist and associate professor in clinical psychology at the University of Louisville, where he studies and treats anxiety disorders. For instance, you might experience a fast heartbeat, sweating, tingling, chest pain or shortness of breath, he said.
What causes overwhelm?