Thoughts shape up how we feel. And it is equally true that how we feel can lead to further thoughts which are not helpful. We can call these cognitive consequences (thought consequences) of depression.
Here are some of the thought patterns displayed by someone who is depressed. (Post-depression thinking)
1. ”I am no good” – This is a typical ‘self downing’ thought. A sense of worthlessness.
2. The world is out there to hurt me – A consistently negative view of the world.
3. The future is dark – Ignoring the possibility of anything good happening in the future.
4. I will fail again – A sense of absolute certainty that one will fail again, no matter what.
5. Only the negative aspects of the situation are considered.
6. Helplessness – Thinking that you are unable to help yourself.
7. Hopelessness – Seeing only suffering and darkness in the future.
8. The world is unfair
Most people are not aware of such thought patterns. It is also possible that these thoughts are perceived as ‘automatic’, with no control over them.
However, there is always a choice. One can consciously choose not to think in these ways. There are alternatives to such thinking.
What should we do about such thoughts? What is the alternative?
1) It is important to acknowledge these thoughts as being present. And attempts to correct them right away are not going to help.
2) Avoid acting on these thoughts.
3) Know that these thoughts will eventually change to healthy alternatives as we deal with irrational beliefs.
4) Try to identify how these thoughts take roots from the Irrational Beliefs we may have about a particular situation, person or event.
5) Try to learn alternate ways of thinking about the situation, person or event. In other words, find rational alternatives to the Irrational Beliefs, and practice the newly formed thinking as often as possible.
7) Once irrational beliefs are identified and modified to rational alternatives, challenge the faulty thought patterns one by one. And the way to challenge involves 3 criteria –
– Is it a realistic thought?
– Is it logical for you to think this way?
– Is it going to help you move towards your goal of reducing the depression?
To read more about Irrational Beliefs, please read “How ‘demanding and irrational beliefs’ can hold us back”
I hope this post was helpful to you. Don’t forget to share it with someone you know who might be having such thought patterns.