Ways of thinking that make depression worse – The negative cognitive triad.

Blog, Depression

There are some ways of thinking which are known to make us feel worse. At some point or another, almost everyone will find themselves thinking in these ways.

But when we are depressed, we are likely to find ourselves thinking in these ways more often, and feel much worse as a result.

In particular, when we are depressed, we are likely to think negatively about almost every part of life. Life can be separated in to 3 categories, yourself, your situation and your predictions of the future.

Having negative thoughts in relation to all these 3 areas is known as the negative cognitive triad and is a good indicator that a person is depressed.

The negative cognitive triad.


You think about yourself in an unreasonably harsh and critical way. You are likely much harder on yourself than you are on others.

You may have a highly critical internal voice that makes you feel bad about almost every aspect of who you are.

You struggle to see any positives about yourself or dismiss any positives you do see as inconsequential.

You find it very easy to think of the negative things you have done or the negative things about your personality.

Ways of thinking that make depression worse - The negative cognitive triad. 1

Your situation/your view of the world.

You focus almost solely on the negative parts of your current situation, dismissing or ignoring positive factors in your life.

You may emphasise the negative parts of your life more than others in a similar situation would.

Your future.

You predict the future to be the same or worse than your current situation. You think it highly unlikely that you or the situation you are in will improve.

Ways of thinking that make depression worse - The negative cognitive triad. 2

If you think in terms of a negative cognitive triad, you should seek support.

Thinking in terms of the negative cognitive triad means your thoughts will be extremely negative, self-destructive and hopeless. Thinking in this way for too long is likely to lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

If you are feeling like harming yourself, please do one of the following; call the Samaritans on 116 123, call the NHS non-emergency number 111 or call your GP and ask for an emergency appointment. 

If you have already caused yourself serious harm (such as taking an overdose or making yourself bleed heavily) then call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

Even if you haven’t contemplated harming yourself, the way you are struggling through life is bound to be deeply unpleasant. You deserve to feel better (even if you don’t believe that to be true right now).

You should strongly consider speaking to your GP about the ways they can support you and reaching out to a private counsellor.

I have tips on how to make finding a private counsellor easier, which you can read here. Alternatively, you can give me a call on: 07588 117305 or send me an email at: sophie@sbcounselling.co.uk    

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