Monday, December 13, 2010

Irrational Thoughts aka Cognitive Distortions

In my last post, I stated that a depressed person's thoughts could be as irrational as that of a person with schizophrenia.  That is not to say that a depressed person is psychotic; for example, that a depressed person has bizarre delusions.  It does mean that their thoughts, formerly called neurotic, simply are illogical.

As John M. Grohol, Psy.D. says at, "What’s a cognitive distortion and why do so many people have them? Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves. "

Common examples of cognitive distortions include jumping to conclusions,overgeneralizing, catastrophizing and blaming among others.  A complete list with short descriptions is available at PsychCentral and I urge you to check it out.

For more detailed information, David Burns', "Feeling Good:  The New Mood Therapy" discusses each one in more detail and provides many strategies one can use alone, with a confidant or mental health professional, to address distorted thinking.  One can learn to restructure ones' thoughts this way.

It should be noted that the most efficacious treatments of depression, or any mental health problems, is a combination of medications and therapy.  This has been demonstrated in multiple studies since the invention of the SSRIs in the early 90's. 

I hope that the last post was not so shocking as to prevent anyone from reading further; the subject is too important and I only wrote these to point out the reasons for pursuing several avenues of treatment for this type of issue.

If you are not trying medications due to financial reasons, many towns and states have programs to help you access the meds you need and many pharmaceutical companies do as well.  What have you got to lose?

1 comment:

  1. I'm one of those lucky souls affected by the shortening of the days and lengthening of the nights, Neora; my sleep patterns get screwed up and my moods get erratic.

    The thing which works for me--when I remember to do it--is to take five or six 3 mg. melatonin caplets about an hour before I go to bed, without stopping at the blasted computer on the way.

    It takes a day or so for the melatonin to make a difference, but once I get my sleep smoothed out, I'm in good shape.

    Staying away from caffeine after lunch and cutting back on sweets helps a lot, too. Oh--and no chocolate at night, or I'm too wired to sleep.