CLEVELAND — It’s perfectly normal to worry every now and then, but for some people, worrying is chronic.

Cleveland Clinic Psychologist Dr. Susan Albers said this worry leaves people vulnerable to falling physically ill or developing mental health issues.

“What's happening on an unconscious level when we worry, basically we are trying to control the future of things that we have no control over we think if we worry about them if we think about them, we may catch them before they actually happen,” Dr. Albers said. “But what's happening on a biological level is that the more that we worry, we are creating a constant stream of cortisol dripping onto our brains. And that cortisol, that stress hormone begins to deplete our body, and over time, we just can't hold anymore, and our bodies start to break down, physically, and we may experience mental health issues.”

Dr. Albers said people who worry have increased visits to health care providers.

“They have irritable bowel syndromes, they have a lot of problems sleeping, a lot of anxiety, so we can literally create ourselves into that category of worried sick,” she said.

Excessive distress can overlap with OCD and anxiety disorders.

“For people who specifically worry about health issues, it's called hypochondriasis, and this is when they are obsessively worried about every different symptoms that they have and particularly in coronavirus times a cough, can cause this great do I have the coronavirus or headache leads to feeling like perhaps I have a brain tumor,” she said. “We have to remember that our bodies are pretty noisy, they send us messages, all of the time. An important thing to do, if you have excessive worry about your symptoms, is to avoid ‘Googling.’”

Dr. Albers said if you’re a person who worries a lot, put a time limit on what's bothering you to help create boundaries.

“For example, after work, 20 minutes you give yourself full permission to worry about everything that's on your mind this is going to limit the amount of time that you focus on some of the things that are on your mind and frees you up to focus on other things that you need to get done,” she said.

She also said to avoid “catastrophizing.”

“This is when our mind jumps to the very worst case scenario we all do it,” Dr. Albers said. “Our mind jumps from A to Z. Remind yourself that these things are possible but not really probable. Focus on what is happening, not the what-ifs.”

With worry, people often create a lot of scenarios that are never going to happen. Dr. Albers said to be a detective and look to see if there’s any real evidence that this worry is actually a fact, because, Dr. Albers said, often, it’s just a feeling.