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Too Much Information

Oversharing and how to stop it

Key points

  • Oversharing is revealing too much personal information, beyond what is considered appropriate or necessary.
  • Oversharing isn't a clinical condition, however, this behavior can be common to some mental health issues.
  • There are ways to reduce the tendency to overshare before speaking with others or posting on social media.

In line at the supermarket one night, the woman in front of me clutched a shopping basket full of ice cream, chocolate, and several bottles of wine. With embarrassment, she noticed me looking at her stash of treats. "I'm getting a divorce," she blurted out. "I'm going to drown my sorrows." She proceeded to tell me about her soon-to-be ex-husband and where the relationship had all gone wrong. Not really knowing what to say, I offered her my sympathies and wished her a good evening.

What is oversharing?

Oversharing is the act of revealing an excessive amount of personal information, usually beyond what is considered to be appropriate or necessary. It might involve sharing excessively with friends on Facebook, a prospective partner on a date, or even a stranger in line at the supermarket.

Oversharing is a habit that many of us have from time to time, especially when we're overwhelmed during periods of stress or trauma. Going through a breakup or divorce, facing problems at work, suffering an illness, or losing a loved one are all things that can lead us to overshare with other people. It can be a cry for help, an act of desperation in which the oversharer seeks advice and informal 'therapy' from anyone and everyone they can. Those prone to blurting things out seem to talk with "no filter" and also tend to have porous boundaries. Oversharing can have negative consequences when a person discloses sensitive information with colleagues at work or gets too personal with someone outside of a relationship. Oversharing can create a false sense of intimacy with others.

Oversharing isn't a clinical condition. However, this behavior can be common to some mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. People with ADHD, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder (BPD) can have a tendency to overshare information in this way. These conditions can make people impulsive and emotionally unstable, and therefore unable to stop and think about what they're saying. In cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), oversharing or trauma dumping can be a trauma response and a coping mechanism.

How to stop oversharing

People who overshare often feel regret right after doing it. Broadcasting inappropriate information can trigger shame and embarrassment and also cause embarrassment and discomfort in those on the receiving end. Oversharers don't mean to be rude or abrasive, but by the very nature of oversharing, other people aren't always prepared or qualified to hear these personal details.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the tendency to overshare before speaking with others or posting on social media. Oversharers can talk instead with more appropriate people, such as friends and family. However, they must be careful in doing so because this can put a strain on relationships. An oversharer needs to get clear on their boundaries and then honor them. The best solution is therapy. Working with a licensed therapist, an oversharer can talk to someone willing and qualified to listen and help. It's also beneficial to treat any underlying mental health conditions to help an oversharer think about the consequences of their behavior and to improve their self-control.

To find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

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