Some thinking habits of depressed people:
The experience of depression can distort people’s ability to think clearly. Some common distortions of people experiencing depression are:
- Arbitrary Inference — a conclusion is drawn in the absence of sufficient evidence — i.e., you are worthless because it is raining on the day of your picnic.
- Selective Abstraction — a conclusion is drawn based on only one of many elements — i.e., you blame yourself for failure of your event, even though there were lots of other people involved in the organisation as well as you.
- Overgeneralisation leading to sweeping conclusion made on the basis of the single, usually trivial event — i.e. I am worthless because of this one particular client did not buy.
- Magnification and Minimisation — gross errors in performance evaluation — i.e., belief your car is ruined because it has a tiny scratch; or that you are a complete failure because you only got 90% and not 100% in the examination.
What can you do about these thought distortions?
It helps to gather facts. When you are in the depths of depression recognising the facts can be difficult, so it helps to get a good friend, or better your psychologist to help you to this.
Step One Write down your beliefs in relation to the situation eg “I am a failure” or I am stupid”
Step Two Look for the evidence that supports this belief. NB a feeling is not evidence. Imagine you are aiming to convince judge in a court that you are stupid or a failure!
Step Three Then look for the evidence that disproves the belief. There is usually far more evidence disproving the belief than supporting it!
Step Four Then create a more useful statement that reflects the facts eg It would have helped if I studied more effectively before the exam” or “My contribution to the event plans was satisfactory”. “It was other people who let the team down”.
Distorted thinking is one of the common elements of depression. For help managing your depression or unhelpful thoughts contact Shelley Rogers Psychologist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One in seven Australians will experience depression in their lifetime.
15.0% of Australians aged 16 to 85 have experienced an affective disorder1* This is equivalent to 2.83 million people today.
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