When people are depressed or anxious their thoughts are often negative and extreme.  These negative thoughts can go round and round creating a downward spiral. These patterns of thinking are called unhelpful thinking styles or cognitive errors and include the following;

See if you can identify your negative thinking habits!


Making extreme statements and negative predictions about the future, jumping to the worst conclusion. e.g. ‘This is awful, I won’t be able to get through this’ or ‘Things can only get worse ’or ‘I’ll be depressed forever’.


Making assumptions about what other people are thinking, not checking whether this is true e.g. ‘She ignored me on purpose’ or ‘He didn’t ask me about my day, he doesn’t care’.


Such as ‘never’ and ‘always,’ making generalised statements about ones’ experience or situation e.g. ‘Everything always goes wrong’ or ‘Because of this mistake, I’m a total failure’.


Seeing things in extremes, with no middle ground – good or bad, perfect vs. useless, success or failure, right against wrong. Also known as all-or nothing thinking.


Making extreme statements, inflexible rules and high standards that are impossible to meet. Such as ‘I should/must/ought/have got to …’