Feeling Like Something Bad is Going to Happen? (Here’s what to do)

In this brief guide, we will explore feeling like something bad is going to happen, and what to do when you have a feeling that something bad is going to happen. We will also explore possible reasons behind feeling like something bad is going to happen.

Feeling like Something Bad is Going to Happen

Feeling like something bad is going to happen is not normal, and it can often be a symptom of anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder or depression, and if you feel that something bad will happen to you or your loved ones, you should spend some time figuring out why that is.

Feeling like something bad is going to happen can come from thoughts and fears that may generally be rooted in your experiences or the way in which you grew up, and they may get triggered by similar circumstances in your present.

If you truly want to figure out why you are feeling like something bad is going to happen, you need to dig a little deeper and think back to when this feeling started and why you are still feeling this way.

Sometimes we may get the feeling that something bad is going to happen because we are in a situation that may not consciously register in our brain as familiar, but we may have experienced it before and something terrible might have happened previously, which is why our brain is sending us the signal to get to a safe situation.

Feeling like something bad is going to happen may also often be a sign of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and it may be known as free-floating anxiety, which refers to chronic worry that is vague and uncertain in nature and exists all the time.

Another kind of anxiety that refers to the feeling of something bad happening is Anticipatory anxiety, which refers to anticipating something bad, like a panic attack, and worrying about it so much that other things start to go wrong.

Anticipatory anxiety is very common in Panic disorders, and sometimes in Phobias, where the person might be afraid that something bad is going to happen (like in Cherophobia, where the person might be afraid of being happy because they are constantly worried that if they are happy they will get sad soon).

In some cases the feeling like something bad is going to happen may not be as intense as anxiety, but more subtle and harder to chalk up to one specific event, and in these cases it may be that this feeling was instilled in us from the voices we had around us growing up.

People with overprotective parents may feel this way often, because they were warned about far too many dangers in the environment, as a result of which the adult is afraid of everything and constantly feels like they are at risk somehow.

The parents may pass down their own fears about the world, warning the child that the world is a scary place and keeping them on guard all the time, which is very damaging in the long run.

Feeling like something bad is going to happen is particularly common in the current times, because of the instability around us, in the face of political upheaval and social issues, as well as the biggest healthcare crisis we have seen in our lifetime in the face of the pandemic.

This feeling is not completely unjustified in the face of all this uncertainty, and given that something bad keeps happening on a daily basis these days most people might think their feeling of something bad happening isn’t even that far off base, but if it is keeping you wired and worried all the time, it is not helpful, and you should do something about it.

Fear that something bad is going to happen

While the feeling that something bad is going to happen may often be a sign of anxiety, the fear of something bad happening may often be a sign of Obsessive compulsive disorder.

It may sound odd to think that someone may have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when they are not washing their hands many times a day or checking the locks on their doors and stepping only on certain tiles when they walk, but OCD can present in many ways, not all of which are displayed in commonly seen depictions of the disorder.

In OCD, and in particular in a variant of OCD called Obsessive Ruminations, which happens without any compulsions, the person may constantly be afraid of something bad happening all the time, and because there is no one stimulus they are afraid of, it may not fit the criteria for anxiety either.

Because people are not aware of this variant of OCD, they may often not realize that they have a problem, and they may spend all that time worrying when they should be getting treatment and help.

Fears of something bad happening in an obsessive ruminations way may also happen because of specific content, and the person may not realize it but sometimes they may have repetitive images or thoughts that are attached to these fears, some examples of which are as follows:

  • Fear that one might harm self
  • Fear that one might harm others
  • Violent or horrific images related to self or others
  • Fear of blurting out obscenities or insults
  • Fear of doing something else embarrassing*
  • Fear will act on unwanted impulses (e.g., to stab
  • friend)
  • Fear will steal things
  • Fear will harm others because not careful enough
  • (e.g. hit/run motor vehicle accident)
  • Fear will be responsible for something else terrible
  • happening (e.g., fire, burglary)
  • Fear of saying certain things
  • Fear of not saying just the right thing
  • Fear of losing things
  • Intrusive (nonviolent) images
  • Intrusive nonsense sounds, words, or music
  • Bothered by certain sounds/noises

These statements/symptoms are from the commonly used clinical scale used for OCD, called the Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale, which is used to assess the severity and symptoms of OCD.

Any clinician that has administered the scale will attest to how much people may sometimes be unaware exactly what they are scared of, and often the person with OCD, despite all their vigilance and attention to their own thoughts, may not know the full extent of what they are worrying about.

You might feel the same way when you read the statements, you might realize that the fear or feeling like something bad is going to happen is not just vague and general, but there is actually specific content to the feeling, in which case you should look into getting a clinician to administer the scale to you and have a clinical interview to figure out if you might have OCD.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Feeling like something bad is going to happen may also be a symptom of Generalized Anxiety disorder, in which the person experiences free-floating anxiety, which results from nothing in particular in the person’s external environment.

Free-floating anxiety is the type that always seems to be there, and it may exist in the back of the person’s mind like a general fear or foreboding.

This anxiety might get worsened when there is a trigger, but otherwise too, it may exist in the person’s life so much that they may learn to live with it to an extent that they forget it’s even there, and they keep feeling uneasy without really knowing why.

The criteria for Generalized Anxiety disorder is as follows, and usually a clinician might use a combination of the DSM 5 or ICD 10 criteria, a scale like Hamilton Anxiety Scale and a clinical interview to determine if a person has Generalized anxiety disorder.

“Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance).

The individual finds it difficult to control the worry.

The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms having been present for more days than not for the past 6 months):

Note: Only one item is required for children.

  • Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge.
  • Being easily fatigued.
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank.
  • Irritability.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep).

The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism).

The disturbance is not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g., anxiety or worry about having panic attacks in panic disorder, negative evaluation in social anxiety disorder (social phobia], contamination or other obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation from attachment figures in separation anxiety disorder, reminders of traumatic events in posttraumatic stress disorder, gaining weight in anorexia nervosa, physical complaints in somatic symptom disorder, perceived appearance flaws in body dysmorphic disorder, having a serious illness in illness anxiety disorder, or the content of delusional beliefs in schizophrenia or delusional disorder).”

How to Stop Feeling like Something Bad is Going to Happen?

To stop feeling like something bad is going to happen you may do the following things:

  • Practice meditation and mindfulness.
  • Sit down and write all the things you are feeling.
  • Write about what the emotion is and what the thought behind it is separately.
  • Assess the validity of the thought, is it something that is truly possible?
  • Try to figure out how often the feeling occurs, and whether it is always the same or it changes.
  • Take deep breaths and see if it is something that goes away when you are distracted.
  • Talk to a professional.
  • Do something that feels productive and positive and the opposite of bad.
  • Do something that makes you feel in control.
  • Create something artistic, if you can.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Drink some water or eat something.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we explored feeling like something bad is going to happen, and what to do when you have a feeling that something bad is going to happen. We also explored possible reasons behind feeling like something bad is going to happen.

Feeling like something bad is going to happen may often be a sign that something is wrong, because whether that is intuition, gut feeling, or just a tendency to worry, none of it is good.

When you feel like something bad is going to happen you need to take a minute and figure out what you are doing and see if that is perhaps making you feel like something bad is going to happen or if there is something else.

Figuring out how to fix things cannot happen till you know what is even wrong, so the knowledge of something bad helps.

If you have ever had the feeling like something bad is going to happen or if you have any questions or comments for us, please feel free to reach out.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Feeling like Something Bad is Going to Happen

What does it mean when you have a feeling that something bad is going to happen?

When you have a feeling that something bad is going to happen it can either mean that something is wrong with your body and it is trying to get your attention with the help of “gut feeling”, or you may have panic or anxiety.

Usually, when someone gets the feeling that something bad is going to happen, it may be known as a feeling of impending doom, and it should be taken seriously. 

What is the fear of something bad happening called?

A fear of something bad happening is called Anticipatory anxiety or foreboding, and it is different from what most people call it, which is Cherophobia.

The fear of something bad happening is different from Cherophobia because Cherophobia is the fear of being happy, and that may not necessarily be a part of the fear of something bad happening. When someone has a fear of something bad happening, they may not be too concerned with their current mental state or level of happiness, and their joy may often have nothing to do with it.

Why do I imagine bad things happening to me?

You might be imagining something bad happening to you because you have anxiety or depression, and you are experiencing the cognitive distortion “catastrophizing,” which is found in both of these disorders.

In catastrophization the person imagines the absolute worst from the most mundane and harmless stimulus, for example, finding a mole and thinking it is cancer.

Why do I worry about things that haven’t happened?

You might worry about things that haven’t happened because you have anxiety or depression, or even both, and the faulty thinking mechanisms that you have developed over time are now making you think that something is going to go wrong.

When people worry about things that haven’t happened they are worrying about things being out of their control or not being able to fix things when they do go wrong, which can be resolved by taking control of one’s life and actively trying to stop worrying.

How do I train my brain to stop worrying?

Here are some ways you can train your brain to stop worrying:

Take help from others to figure things out 
Face how you feel honestly. 
Recognize that things will sometimes be out of your control. 
Practice self-care. 
Be conscious of your intentions. 
Focus on positive thoughts. 
Practice mindfulness or meditation.

Can worrying about something make it happen?

No, worrying about something will not make it happen, but it can deplete your resources to deal with the most ordinary situations, which can then make bad things happen in reality.

For example, If you worry about failing an exam so much that you are not able to concentrate and study properly, you might actually fail, but in this case it was your worry and not anything to do with your intelligence, that made you fail, which means that worry did not make anything bad happen.

Citations

https://www.bustle.com/p/why-do-i-have-a-bad-feeling-7-signs-your-intuition-is-really-anxiety-3216237

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM 5)

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

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