Thoughts

Cognitive Errors that Support Depression

Cognitive Error

Underlying Assumption

Example/syllogism

Overgeneralization If it’s true once, it’s always true.  If it’s true in these circumstances, it’s true in all similar circumstances. Jill hates me.  Jill is a girl.  All girls hate me.

I had a flat on the way to the theater.  All the tires must be going bad.  I can’t do anything right.

Selective abstraction/ Disqualifying the positive Bad events count more than good events. Everyone said they liked my speech but there was someone in the fifth row who looked bored.  It must have been a boring speech.  The others are just covering up to make me feel better.

I had a flat on the way to the theater, and we missed the opening credits.  It ruined the whole evening.

Excessive responsibility When things go wrong, it’s my fault.  When things go right, I got lucky. I had a flat on the way to the theater, and we were late.  I should have checked the tires more often.
Assuming temporal causality If it’s been true in the past, it’s always going to be true.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

I had a flat on the way to the theater, and we were late.  My date acted like it didn’t matter, but she was cold to me later.  It’s all my fault.

I woke up this morning feeling depressed.  I’m always going to feel depressed.

Excessive self-reference Everyone is watching me all the time, especially when I slip up.  When things go wrong, it’s because of something I did wrong. No one is going to listen to what I say because I’ll be so anxious they’ll only pay attention to my nervousness.

I had a flat on the way to the theater.  Did I act flustered?  Did I get too angry?  Did I fix it fast enough? She must think I’m a fool.

Catastrophizing Things have to be perfect all the time.  The minute any little thing goes wrong, everything will start to fall apart. I had a flat on the way to the theater.  I must need new tires.  They’ll all go bad and I can’t drive to work.

I’ll have to quit my job.  I’ll never find another job.  I’ll starve.

Dichotomous thinking Everything is always good or bad, black or white, with no shades of gray. I got a B on my paper.  The teacher must hate me.

I had a flat on the way to the theater.  What a lousy car!  I should never have bought it.

Emotional reasoning Whatever I feel is true. I had a flat on the way to the theater.  It put me in a lousy mood.  My date said she had a good time, but she was only trying to make me feel better.
Should statements (perfectionism) Things always have to be a certain way, and if they’re not, that’s awful. I had a flat on the way to the theater.  I should have known it would happen.  I should take better care of the car.  I should have a better job so I could have a better car. I should have gone to med school instead of being an English major.
Magnification/ minimization Exaggerating the importance and impact of bad events, not paying attention to (not being aware) of good events I had a flat on the way to the theater.  After the movie my date said she really had a good time.  Too bad about the flat, it ruined the whole evening.