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Checking thoughts

When thoughts are automatic we don’t have the chance to check them out. Once we capture our thoughts we can give them a bit more attention. Here our aim is to stand back from our thoughts and to weigh them up more carefully.

In developing his theory of depression, Aaron Beck identified many different types of thinking traps that tend to make people feel more unhappy and depressed. Don’t be surprised if you find that you make them too – they’re very common and easy to fall into.

Here are a few examples of thinking errors that are common in depression

Black and white thinking – I can’t say anything right these days
– Everything I say/do is wrong
Mind reading – The teacher will think I’m lazy
– They will think I’m pathetic
Predicting the worst – It’ll be awful
– I won’t be able to stand it
Over-generalising I’m a real loser
Jumping to conclusions I’ll be better off not going to school at all
Personalising If it goes wrong it’ll be all my fault
Catastrophising Nothing I do is ever right

Do these thinking errors sound familiar to you? How many are you aware of making yourself?

© University of Reading
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Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People

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