Practical Solutions for Dealing With Negative Thinking

By Michael H Carr

How to deal with persistent negative thoughts is one of the biggest challenges for people suffering from anxiety and depression. What we think has a big effect on how we feel, so if we are stuck with persistent negative thoughts that we can't shake, we can easily develop chronic anxiety or depression.

Most psychologists agree that trying to battle thoughts with thoughts is a bad idea, and usually makes negative thinking worse. One solution to diffusing negative thinking is to write down your thoughts. Writing down your troubling thoughts makes it easier to look at your negative thinking more objectively. The process of writing also activates the left frontal part of the brain that helps us to think in a positive and constructive manner.

Keeping a written record of your thoughts is a cornerstone of Cognitive Behavior Therapy. According to CBT, our feelings are largely determined to our thoughts, so if we can identify and challenge our thoughts we can change the way we feel. During CBT you keep a record of your troubling thoughts and then try to logically challenge them. For example if you have the thought "I'm hopeless in social situations," you write down this thought and then write down some logical challenges to it. Examples of logical rebuttals might include: "this is an over-generalization, I'm reasonably competent in most social situations" or "I'm sometimes shy and awkward in social situations, but this doesn't mean I am hopeless or need to fear meeting people." Critics of CBT argue that people with anxiety and depression have so many negative thoughts running through their minds that CBT can only scratch the surface of their thinking. Admittedly, it can take time for CBT to have an effect, but studies show that at least 50 percent of patients who do a full course of therapy experience significant benefits.

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Better Understanding Depression

By Drew Meigs

The word is thrown around quite often, but how many of us know what it really means? Depression. There is no simple answer here because it can affect different people in different ways. When those in the medical field speak of depression, they generally mean chronic depression, or "Major Depressive Disorder." This is different from waking up with "a case of the Mondays." Many people suffer from acute (short-term) depression in their lives, such as after the death of a loved one; but others have the experience of depression virtually every day of their lives.

We still, however, have not answered our real question: What is depression? When I speak of depression for the rest of this article, I am referring to chronic, Major Depressive Disorder. Though all symptoms will not be present in all people with depression, some of the most common symptoms are: feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and/or self-hatred; lack of desire to do things the individual once found pleasurable (this could include having no desire to go out with friends, lower libido, or any of a number of things); poor memory; insomnia (inability to sleep, or difficulty sleeping); weight loss (usually through lack of appetite); and thoughts of suicide. Let's get one thing clear before we go further: not everyone with depression has suicidal tendencies or even suicidal ideations (suicidal thoughts). Those are, as I said, simply among the more common symptoms.

Lesser seen, but still sometimes present symptoms may include delusions (a view or belief that is strongly held despite overwhelming evidence or proof to the contrary), hypersomnia (sleeping too much, or oversleeping), and sometimes-even hallucinations (seeing, hearing, smelling or tasting things that aren't really there). As if these symptoms were not serious enough on their own, there are some physical conditions that depression could possibly make an individual more susceptible to, such as certain types of cardiovascular diseases.

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