Updated: Jan 14
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions across the globe. But, that doesn’t mean it needs to take over your life. People experience depression in different ways. It impacts some more than others, and some people are able to handle their symptoms better than other people can.
One of the biggest underlying issues with depression, however, is how much of an influence it can have over your thoughts. Depressive thoughts are negative thoughts, and they can completely change the way you feel when you give in and believe them.
Ignoring your own thoughts is easier said than done, even when you know they’re wrong. So, what can you do to challenge depressive thoughts and keep more control over your mental well-being? Let’s cover a few effective strategies.
1. Recognize Patterns
When you’ve been dealing with depressive thoughts for a while, you start to develop negative patterns. Some common issues for people include always seeing things in black and white, going to extremes, blaming yourself for anything that goes wrong, or choosing to only see the negative side of things.
You might not realize you’ve developed these patterns right away. Though, it’s so important to recognize them. Take the time to consider what your depressive thoughts usually look like. Why do they bring you down, and how? Chances are, there’s more of a pattern there than you think. By recognizing those patterns, you’ll be better equipped to shut down negative thoughts when they threaten to take over.
2. Be More Mindful
Mindfulness has gotten a lot of buzz and attention in recent years, but it’s certainly not a gimmick or fad. More people are starting to realize just how beneficial it can be. The practice of mindfulness includes focusing on the present. Thoughts will continue to come, but you won’t hang onto them when you’re in a mindful moment. Instead, you’ll focus on things like your breathing, how your body feels, and your surroundings.
Many people make mindfulness a part of their everyday routine. Spending a few minutes each morning practicing deep breathing and focusing on the present can make a big difference in your outlook.
3. Start a Gratitude Journal
Gratitude is often the enemy of depressive thoughts. Negative thinking wants to remind you on a regular basis of everything going wrong in your life. It includes everything from shame and blame to making a situation seem worse than it is.
By actively being grateful for the things in your life, you can fight back against those depressive thoughts and the things they’re trying to make you believe. One of the best ways to show more gratitude is to keep a journal.
Write down five things you’re grateful for at the end of each day. Or, keep the journal with you every day and jot down things you’re grateful for as they come up. Not only will it help you to fight back against depressive thoughts in the moment, but you can look back on all you have to be grateful for when you’re feeling especially low.
4. Don’t Do it Alone
It’s easy for depressive thoughts to convince you that something is wrong with you or that you’re too weak to overcome them. If that sounds familiar, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.
While it’s not uncommon for people with depression to isolate themselves and retreat from family and friends, that’s the last thing you should do. Lean on your support system. Reach out for help.
Talk to people. You might be surprised to learn that other people are dealing with similar struggles, and you can help each other along the way. Often, seeking the help of a mental health professional will make the biggest difference.
You are not your depressive thoughts. Keep these suggestions in mind to challenge those thoughts and start to take back the life you deserve. Reach out to my office today for a free consultation to start your path to treating depression.