Why do people stay stuck in depression? Are there certain things that we do to perpetuate bad feelings, or do we have no control over our depression? Research shows that people typically do certain things to maintain their depression. Here are 10 ways how.
- All or Nothing Thinking
Everything is either black or white, good or bad, all or nothing. For example, when I go to a job interview, I think to myself, “if I’m not perfect, then I’m a failure”, but nothing in between.
Taking something small and blowing it out of proportion as a catastrophic event. For instance, if I think about a test that I didn’t do well on, I would conclude that I will fail out of school.
- Maximizing Bad, Minimizing Good
Exaggerating bad things or events and dismissing the good. For example, when my boss praises my work but gives one constructive feedback, I hyper focus on the constructive feedback, and dismiss the positive comments made.
- Yah But…
Always finding an excuse not to believe in something positive or not try something new. For instance, whenever someone says something nice about me, I would dismiss it with a negative counter-argument, “yah but…”
Seeing one negative event and generalizing it as if it’s always true. Like catastrophizing, we take one experience and then generalize it across the board to be true in all circumstances. For instance, if I didn’t do well on a test, I generalize that I am stupid.
- Negativity Bias
Tendency to notice and focus on the negative instead of the positive. For example, I give a presentation and I remember all the minor mistakes that I made, but I don’t notice how the audience loved my presentation.
- Disqualifying the Positive
Discounting anything positive as if it doesn’t count because it’s the exception. E.g., if I do well on an exam, I dismiss it as an easy exam that everyone did well on or that I was lucky because I just happened to study the right material.
- Mind Reading
Convinced that people’s thoughts toward me are negative, without any facts to back it up. For instance, if someone was quiet during a meal out, I interpret that this person is bored and doesn’t like my company. I never check it out. It could likely be that this person had a hard day and didn’t feel like being social, but I don’t consider this as an option. I only consider the worst-case scenario as an option.
- Fortune Telling
Predicting an event will end negatively, without any proof, but convinced this is true. Similar to mind reading, I read into a situation and predict that it will turn out poorly. Therefore, I may not even try to engage in the first place. For example, if I think that by giving my opinion, people will disagree with me and get angry at me, then I do not bother giving my opinion in the first place.
- Emotional Reasoning
I use my feelings as a gauge, therefore, whatever I’m feeling is true. For instance, If I feel anxious and awkward in a group setting, I automatically believe that others also think I’m anxious and socially awkward.
The commonality to all 10 reasons of staying stuck in depression is that we justify all negative thinking, accept them as truths without any facts to back them up, and perpetuate these thoughts without ever challenging them. If you want to find ways to get out of these thought traps, please contact Brentwood Counselling Centre to see how we can help you.