If you are feeling depressed, you will notice that you feel continually sad. You may also feel lonely, and when you think about the future you may feel hopeless or helpless.
Along with these feelings, depression may also include symptoms that are:
- Cognitive (e.g., self-criticism, negative thinking)
- Behavioural (e.g., lower levels of activity and withdrawal from people)
- Physiological (e.g., problems with sleeping and eating)
- Emotional (e.g., irritability, anger, guilt and nervousness)
Negative thinking patterns can keep you stuck in the swamp of depression.
When people feel depressed they tend to think negatively about themselves (self-criticism), the world (hopelessness) and their future (helplessness).
Thinking negatively about yourself
Self-criticism not only reinforces a depressive mindset, but it is particularly damaging.
Self-criticism is associated with low self-esteem, low self-confidence and relationship problems, and it can also hold you back from wanting to improve or to make changes.
Thinking negatively about the world
When you feel negative about the world, you only notice the problems around you and you may constantly feel hurt and rejected by others. In your negative frame of mind you are likely to misinterpret events and others’ reactions, seeing people as being mean, negative and critical.
You will remember negative events and see problems where they do not exist, but you will probably not notice the positive things that happen around you. Your mind dwells on negative things and thus your feelings (of sadness, helplessness and hopelessness) are reinforced.
Thinking negatively about the future
Thinking about the future in a negative way leads to increased feelings of hopelessness. You are likely to anticipate future events in a very negative manner, seeing little hope of change. Your negative approach means that you expect such things as relationships going badly, jobs being hard to obtain/maintain and social interactions being difficult.
As a result of this thinking, you may tend to avoid doing things and interacting with others.
What you can do:
- Use a thought record to record your negative thinking.
- Complete this checklist to understand how negative your thinking is.
- Over the last two weeks, which of these thoughts have crossed your mind?