Bad feelings often spawn from distorted thinking – viewing a situation in a way that is slightly skewed from reality. By thinking about a situation in a distorted way, you effectively change the way you feel about that situation and the people involved with it. Once you can recognize these thoughts, you can work on reversing them, which will hopefully make you feel better in the future. Let’s take a closer look at how distorted thinking leads to depression and anxiety and how that affects depression therapy.
Types Of Distorted Thinking
The term “distorted thinking” covers a broad range of thoughts that you may go through when something or someone upsets you. These can be categorized in the following way:
- Overgeneralization – Assuming that a negative event is going to lead to a series of negative events that get progressively worse over time
- Minimization – Diminishing the importance of an event
- Magnification – Turning something small into something much bigger
- Fortune Telling – Predicting that something will go wrong without evidence to support the prediction
- Mind Reading – Making assumptions about what people are thinking without actually knowing what they’re thinking
- Ignoring The Positives – Disregarding your accomplishments or positive personal qualities
- Filtering – Ignoring the positives and hyper-focusing on the negatives in a situation
- All-Or-Nothing – Creating absolutes in a scenario, black and white with no shades of grey
- Emotional Reasoning – Turning emotions into supposed facts, “I feel crazy so I must be crazy.”
- Hypothetical Statements – Criticizing yourself with things you “should” or “should not” do
- Blame – Blaming yourself for situations that are not entirely your fault, or casting blame on everyone but yourself in a situation you contributed to
- Labeling – Putting a label on yourself instead of assessing the situation as a whole: “I’m an idiot” vs. “I made a mistake”
Are you guilty of any of those thought patterns? We all are at one point or another. The trick is to recognize those thought patterns as they happen and turn your negative thoughts into positive ones. That is one method of depression therapy that is extremely effective for some patients.
Recognizing Distorted Thoughts: An Exercise
It’s very difficult to recognize and analyze distorted thinking in the moment. This is something you will learn to do overtime, but first, you must be able to identify distorted thoughts as a whole. Let’s start with a hypothetical situation, and then we will turn our attention to events from your own life.
Linda is a single mother of three who just got laid off from a large company that was downsizing. The news came suddenly, and Linda was forced to leave the workplace in less than a week. Her immediate thoughts were: “I’m never going to get another job. I won’t be able to support my family. My children will be so disappointed in me.”
Within those three sentences, Linda is already exemplifying several forms of distorted thinking. By saying she will never get another job, she is fortune telling (predicting the future without evidence) and overgeneralizing (saying that this event will lead to much worse ones later on). The same could be said about the fact that she won’t be able to support her family – this is a temporary problem, not a permanent one. She is also jumping to conclusions by assuming her children will be disappointed in her. In all actuality, they may feel sorry for their hard-working mom and want to help her get a new job as quickly as possible.
An Event From Your Past
Let’s apply the analysis above to an event from your past. Think of a situation in which you felt anxious or depressed, more so than usual. Perhaps you got laid off like Linda, or maybe a long-term relationship ended. You might have gotten into a fight with a close friend or turned a small misunderstanding into a big argument. Write down some of the thoughts that were racing through your head at the time – even if you don’t feel that way anymore. Then take a moment to identify forms of distorted thinking within each of the statements you write down.
Overcoming Distorted Thinking Through Depression Counseling
Just by understanding that you have moments of distorted thinking, you are already taking a big step in overcoming anxiety and depression. Your thoughts impact the way you feel. The sooner you can take control of them, the sooner you can reach a better quality of life. The best way to do this is to work with a depression counselor who can go over your thought process in detail and help you figure out ways to break free from it in the moment. The perfect solution for you may be entirely different than the perfect solution for someone else. Your depression therapist can work with you to build a path of happiness designed just for you.
Contact Perspectives Of Troy Counseling Centers at (248) 244-8644 to schedule an appointment with one of our depression counselors and therapists.