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Do You Have Worry My Ass Off (Wmao) Syndrome?

Feel like you worry too much? More than others do? Take the unofficial test for Wmao here.

Karen Nimmo
Apr 30 · 4 min read

“I’m a worrier,” the young man said. *

“I overthink everything. I pick over conversations. I worry about what I’ve said, what I’m doing, if I’m doing enough, what everyone else is doing. Whether I’m cool enough, ripped enough, if my girlfriend REALLY likes me.

He gave a few more examples; I waited until he ran out of steam. “See what I mean?” he finally said. “I could worry for the Olympics.”

Sean was 27. He’d reached out for help because he believed his worry (and his worry about his worry) was out of control. But was it? Had it begun to erode his life or could he earn to live alongside it? The answer was both.

The Worry Club

We’re all members of the Worry Club: to worry, or be anxious, is to be human. But as the pace of life keeps amping up, and we navigate social pressures of comparison and perfection, it’s worth keeping an eye on your worries and — especially — on how much they’re impacting your life.

The terms worry, stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably. Clinically, anxiety (or general anxiety) is most common and many psychologists — me included — see more anxiety (in its many incarnations) than we do depression, even though they frequently go hand in hand.

However the terminology matters less than the fallout, both in terms of your emotional health and your life quality. So check out the list below and see where you fit.

Do You have Worry My-Ass-Off (Wmao)* Syndrome?

*Wmao Syndrome is not a disease, abnormality or mental deficiency: it (obviously) won’t show up in any of the official diagnostic manuals. It’s just an unofficial test for excessive worry — and a name for the times :)

Answer yes or no to the following:

  • You would describe yourself as a worrier.
  • You feel like you overthink EVERYTHING. Often you’ll go to the “worst possible” outcome.
  • You can always find something to worry about — even when life is good. There are not many times when you are free of worries altogether.
  • When you’re invited out, your worries (e.g. what to wear, who’ll be there, how you’ll fit, what to say, whether they’ll find you boring etc) overtake your enjoyment.
  • You believe you worry more than most people — even though you haven’t asked them.
  • You worry about things in more than one area of your life (e.g. your performance at school/work/sports; your social interactions; your health; your relationship/s.)
  • You tend to be highly self-conscious about how you look, what you say, what you do.
  • You have difficulty handling uncertainty.
  • You would agree that you tend to “live in your head.”
  • You have trouble relaxing or winding down fully. You frequently feel keyed up.
  • You are often indecisive and have difficulty making decisions.
  • You struggle to concentrate or feel like your mind goes “blank.”
  • You worry that you’re not good enough in more than one area of your life.
  • You tend to doubt, second-guess and critique yourself.
  • You worry about how much you worry.


If you find yourself answering yes to many of these things, don’t panic. Some life stages — and events — put extra pressure on us and certainly increase the worry quota. There might be a very good reason for your worry right now.

But pay attention if you would consistently answer yes to many of these points. Excessive, consistent worry can be a sign of, or morph into, serious problems like depression, anxiety and burnout. So gauge if your worrying is biting into your enjoyment of your people and activities and especially if it’s negatively affecting your moods, emotional reactions and personality.

Remember, worry doesn’t have to be wiped out altogether — it’d be crazy to try. Instead, it’s healthier and more sustainable to learn to manage our worries and fears successfully.

Professional help is an option but — if you haven’t already — start with some simple tools for self-care, thought management and relationships*. It’s helpful (and cheaper) to do as much as you can for yourself.

My new book Busy as F*ck offers lots of tools for countering worrying and building a life that matters. Available as an ebook or in paperback at NZ and Australian bookstores. Other territories coming soon.

Join my email list here for hot tips, psychology tools and a free gift: Seeing Someone: a brief guide to psychology, therapy and coaching. Enjoy!

On The Couch

Understanding yourself is the key to great results and optimum living. Clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo offers help for your difficulties and a blueprint for fulfilling your potential.

Karen Nimmo

Written by

Clinical psychologist, writer, still learning how to live. Author of Busy As F*ck: 10-on-the-couch sessions to diagnose & treat busy people everywhere.

On The Couch

Understanding yourself is the key to great results and optimum living. Clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo offers help for your difficulties and a blueprint for fulfilling your potential.

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