Automatically Thinking Your Way into Depression

We can think ourselves into depression. We have around 60,000 – 70,000 thoughts a day, and very few of them are original. We can tell ourselves many times a day that we are stupid, are unattractive, are too short, or too tall, too fat, or too thin. These false beliefs, I think, are usually developed in childhood. Hurtful statements told to us often by the people who (should) love us the most. We repeat these things to ourselves over and over, thousands of times. As we grow up, we believe these statements are true. These are often referred to as automatic negative thoughts. We don’t have to think or reason the thoughts through. They are hard-wired into our brain.

Whether these things are true or false are besides the point. It’s what we believe about ourselves that counts. When I was in medical school, there was one young attractive girl, a brilliant student, well-loved and with a tight-knit circle of friends. She was at the beginning of adulthood. The world was her oyster. Yet she apparently had a different opinion of herself. Unfortunately, she felt she was such a failure that she tragically ended her own life.

How do you get rid of these automatic negative thoughts? Fortunately, you don’t have to spend years on the psychologist’s couch talking about how bad your childhood was. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) used by many psychologists and doctors is an effective way to reprogram you mind.

 

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