By Sophia Goh, Principal Psychotherapist at Sofia Wellness Clinic
Depression can manifest differently for different people. For some, depression seems to have developed over a period of time. For others, it seems to have hit them out of the blue. Depression can range from mild, moderate, to severe. Some people may experience depression only once, or many times throughout their lives. For others, depression may seem like a constant in the background of their lives.
A common thread among individuals who are depressed is a particular style of thinking. This style of thinking is mostly (or entirely) negative in nature, and is often referred to as faulty, maladaptive, irrational, or dysfunctional thinking. If left untreated, this style of thinking actually serves to maintain the depressed mood. The more negative thoughts one has, the more severe one tends to experience depression. Let us take a look at what happens when depression does the thinking.
The first thought pattern comprises of negative thoughts about oneself. Almost everyone who is depressed has self-critical thoughts, such as ‘I am a failure’, ‘I am worthless’, or ‘I don’t deserve to be loved’. This pattern of thinking is present no matter how successful, wealthy, or capable an individual may be, and leads to feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem.
Think back about a time when you felt particularly low. What were some of the things you recall saying to yourself?
The second thought pattern comprises of negative thoughts about the world. Individuals with depression tend to have a negative bias when interpreting the things that are happening around them. They tend to focus on the negatives and ignore the positives, and interpret the world and the people around them as overly harsh or critical.
For example, an individual may focus on the fact that he made a careless mistake in the exam, and ignore the fact that he came out top in class. In another example, an individual may perceive the people around him to be unfriendly and unkind, when someone did not hold the lift door open for him.
When you were in a depressed mood, has there been instances whereby you could recognize yourself focusing on the negatives?
The third thought pattern comprises of negative thoughts about the future. Individuals with depression tend to imagine negative outcomes in the future, such as, ‘I will never get better’, ‘I will never be any good’, or ‘Trying anything else will only lead to a disaster.’
This pattern of thinking leads to feelings of hopelessness and a lack of willingness to do anything to make themselves feel better. This pattern of thinking is also dangerous as it may lead to thoughts of suicide.
What are some of the negative thoughts that you have about your future?
Do these thought patterns sound familiar? Find out more about the symptoms of depression and available treatment options here.
Sophia Goh is a professional counsellor and psychotherapist. She holds a Master of Arts in Counselling and Guidance and is the founder of Sofia Wellness Clinic. She is passionate about helping individuals lead successful, fulfilling and well-meaning lives – one that they would be eager to jump out of bed for. She works closely with teenagers and adults to help them overcome life challenges and flourish as individuals. Her areas of expertise are in Depression, Anxiety and Stress Management, Anger Management, Life Transitions, Career Counselling, Relationship and Self-esteem Issues. She also works with teenagers and parents on Child and Adolescent Issues, Peer Pressure, Bullying, Academic Stress and Difficult Parent-Child Relationships.