AS@W Antidepressant Skills Workbook: Heling You Deal With Depression
Thinking Realistically
Step 2Recognize your own depressive thoughts and how they trigger low mood.

Most thinking is so quick and so automatic that we don’t even realize we are doing it. We must learn to become aware of depressive thinking as it occurs. An excellent strategy is to carry around pencil and paper for a week.

Although depression can seem like a constant dark cloud, it actually varies over the course of the day. Every time your mood sinks, ask yourself this important question:

“What was going through my mind just then?”

What were you thinking about? What were you reacting to? Write this down. For example, perhaps getting on the bus one morning you suddenly felt a deepening of the gloom you’ve been feeling. What was going through your mind just then? Perhaps you noticed that everyone on the bus was facing you, and you had the thought that they were judging you negatively. Excellent! Write it down.

Keep recording your thoughts until you notice that the same kinds of depressive thinking come up again and again. You might find yourself placing a checkmark beside some of the thoughts you wrote down earlier. “Oh, that one again.” When this happens, you have probably identified the most common kinds of depressive thinking you do.

Write some of these depressive thoughts here:





Then what? Some of your depressive thoughts may seem obviously distorted. “Wait, the reason they were facing me on the bus is that I was at the front, not because they wanted to look at what a loser I am!” It can sometimes be enough just to know that your mind generates depressive thinking in certain kinds of situations. Try to become aware of the depressive thinking as it happens and remind yourself where it comes from. “I think this way because my mood is low and because I was a self-conscious kid – not because they were all judging me.”

You may find that you take the depressive thoughts less seriously once you know where they come from. When you become aware of depressive thoughts you may feel tempted to attack yourself. “How could I think such stupid thoughts?” Depression causes you to be self-critical, and recognizing depressive thinking can give you one more way to beat up on yourself. Don’t. Instead, remind yourself that depressive thoughts are the product of low mood and of your personal history. You are not stupid for having them. They are normal during depression.

Next: Step 3