Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Depressive Thinking

I mentioned a workbook a few posts back, Antidepressant Skills Workbook, that I have been working with, and I wanted to share part of it with you. There is a section about Depressive Thinking and the antithesis, Realistic Thinking. I have been learning about the most common kinds of depressive thinking and what thinking in the opposite way looks like. Flashcards work for me to remember new vocabulary or in this case, phrases. I want to know each of these without having to refer to the book because I am tracking the frequency of these kinds of thoughts to help me be self-aware of how I am thinking. After thinking in depressive manners for so long, I usual don't see that I am having depressive thoughts. I am trying to see myself more clearly and see what patterns there are in my thinking so I am marking down in a little notebook each time I or my husband notices me thinking in one of these depressive ways. It will take time for me to get practiced at noticing it; I will get it. :)

So below is an excerpt from the workbook I mentioned. Its a long excerpt, but I think its worth a  read. You may be surprised to find that you, too, are sometimes thinking depressive thoughts. I have a lot of check marks in the Mind Reading one listed below.

Alrighty lovely people; I hope you are well and in good spirits!! Hugs!!

"Learn to identify depressive thoughts

Depressive thoughts are unfair and unrealistic. They are distorted because they are inaccurate reflections of how the world is or how you are. The table below describes some common forms of distorted thinking in depression.

In this kind of depressive thinking, you only look at the bad, never the good. Because all you see is the negative side, your whole life appears to be negative. But realistic thinking equally considers positive and negative aspects of your life.

In this kind of depressive thinking, one negative event seems like the start of a never-ending pattern. If one friend leaves, they all will. If you fail the first time, you’ll fail every time. But realistic thinking recognizes that one disappointing situation does not determine how other situations will turn out.

All or Nothing Thinking.
You see the world in terms of extremes. You are either fat or thin, smart or stupid, tidy or a slob, depressed or joyful, and so on. There is no in-between. Gradual progress is never enough because only a complete change will do. “Who cares that I did half of it? It’s still not finished!” But realistic thinking sees people and events as falling somewhere between the extremes, towards the middle, where most things are found.

A small disappointment is seen as though it were a disaster. For example, you were slightly late in completing a small project, so your entire month is ruined: you react to the imagined catastrophe (a terrible month) rather than to the little event (a late project). But realistic thinking sees events in their true importance, not overemphasizing negative events.

You talk to yourself in a harsh way, calling yourself names like “idiot”, “loser”, or whatever the worst insults are for you. You talk to yourself in a way you would never talk to anyone else. But realistic thinking doesn't use these kind of insults because they are not fair, you wouldn't talk to anyone else that way, and they are unnecessarily discouraging.

You feel as though you know what others are thinking about you, and it’s always negative. So you react to what you imagine they think, without bothering to ask. But realistic thinking recognizes that guessing what others think about you is likely to be inaccurate, especially when you are depressed.

You feel as though you know what the future will bring, and it’s negative. Nothing will work out, so why bother trying? But realistic thinking recognizes that you don’t know how things will turn out: by staying open to the possibility of positive results, you’ll be more hopeful and more likely to make things better.

It’s only good enough if it’s perfect. And because you can’t make most things perfect, you’re rarely satisfied and can rarely take pride in anything. But realistic thinking gives credit for accomplishments, even if the result is less than perfect. Few of us reach perfection in what we do, but our achievements are meaningful.

You think that you know how the world should be, and it isn't like that. You know what you should be like, and you aren't. Result: You are constantly disappointed and angry with yourself and with everyone around you. But realistic thinking understands the limitations of the world and of yourself — trying for improvement but also accepting how things are.

There are other types of depressive thinking, but these are some of the most common ones. When you catch yourself thinking depressingly, it can be useful to look at this list to see if you are using one of them."

Copies of this book can be downloaded at no cost from: www.bcmhas.ca or www.carmha.ca/publications.

Antidepressant Skills Workbook
by Randy Paterson PhD & Dan Bilsker PhD


  1. This is interesting. I stumbled onto this site through the link from your wife's site. I have never 'felt' I suffer from depression but I have experienced some of these thoughts. I really think we all suffer from depression from time to time. It is when we cannot 'bounce out of it' that the real trouble starts. I am very guilty of mindreading and perfectionism. Perfectionism will always be a problem for me because my father was a perfectionist. I always feel I fall short. Many times I catch myself thinking I know what others think of me. Yet when I really think of it, most people focus on themselves. So what I have done or can control is often not the issue.

    Jule's, you are a special person. To be able to sit down, see what is causing your depression and then attempt to act on this knowledge is wonderful. This is very hard to do,please don't expect perfect results. The fact that you are doing this show a wining attitude and strong characteristics. You are admitting you need help and are seeking out and doing things to make yourself better. That is great and shows a strong character! I thank you for your post. It will help me improve myself respect attitudes and my life.

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment! I think your comments about recognizing a couple of the common depressive thoughts in your life even though you are not depressed is probably a likely experience. It seems that people experience life in similar ways regardless of who they are or where they live. Human beings have written about common themes for as long as we have been writing which implies that the human experience is shared. So depression is something that all people experience at some time in life, some more, some less.

      I really appreciate the encouraging words! It is not easy to face this and I would not be anywhere without my incredibly supportive husband. He is always on my side even when I need a push. :)

      It is great that this post made you think and that it affected you in a positive way. :) I also enjoy your comments; it makes me think more about where I am, where I've been, and where I want to go.