How Does Thinking Affect Depression?

Certain ways you think (your cognitions) can cause depression. Some of these are described below:

    • Dysfunctional automatic thoughts. These are thoughts that come spontaneously and seem plausible; however, they reflect distorted perceptions and are associated with negative feelings such as sadness, anxiety, anger, and hopelessness. Examples of some types of these thoughts are the following:Mind reading: “He thinks I’m a loser.” Labeling: “I’m a failure,” “He’s a jerk.” Fortunetelling: “i’ll get rejected,” “i’ll make a fool of myself.” Catastrophizing: “It’s awful if I get rejected,” I can’t stand being anxious.” Dichotomous (all-0r-nothing) thinking: “I fail at everything,” “I don’t enjoy anything,” “Nothing works out for me.” Discounting positives: “That doesn’t count because anyone could do that.”
    • Maladaptive assumptions. These include ideas about what you think you should be doing. They are the rules by which depressed people think they have to live. Examples include the following:“I should get the approval of everyone.” “If someone doesn’t like me, that means I’m unlovable.” “I can never be happy doing things on my own.” “If I fail at something, then I’m a failure.” “I should criticize myself for my failures.” “If I’ve had a problem for a long time, then I can’t change.” “I shouldn’t be depressed.”

    • Negative self-concepts. People who are depressed often focus on their shortcomings, exaggerate them, and minimize any positive qualities they may have. They may see themselves as unlovable, ugly, stupid, weak, or even evil.