AS@W Antidepressant Skills Workbook: Heling You Deal With Depression
Thinking Realistically
Step 4Practice realistic thinking.

It’s not enough to come up with a fair and realistic thought just once. Depressive thinking gets repeated over and over, sometimes for years, until it becomes automatic. More balanced thinking will help you to feel better, but it won’t be automatic – at least not for a while. The good news is that changing depressive thinking doesn’t take years: in fact, depressed people often begin to notice emotional differences after only a few weeks of practicing this antidepressant skill.

Certain kinds of situations can really trigger depressive thinking. Situations likely to trigger depressive thinking might include meeting with your boss, attending a social gathering with people you don’t know well, or having a disagreement with a family member. In order to get the greatest benefit from this approach, you must catch yourself in situations that normally trigger depressive thoughts for you.

Try to think of a few situations where you often have depressive thoughts.

Write them here:





When you find yourself in these situations, deliberately rehearse your fair and realistic thinking. Don’t assume that it will happen on its own. You will have to tell yourself how to look at the situation, just as you might give advice or encouragement to a friend. Talk back to the depressive thinking. Don’t allow depressive thinking to happen without replying to it. Every time you talk back, you make the depressive thinking weaker and the realistic thinking stronger. But it takes time before realistic thoughts have more influence over you than depressive ones.

You will probably find that, for the first while, the realistic thinking sounds false to you. For example: you’ve been thinking in a perfectionistic way about your work, telling yourself that “my work has to be 100% or else it’s worthless,” but you are given very little time to complete each task, so you often feel like a failure. You realize that this is unrealistic thinking and come up with the fair and realistic thought that “achieving 80% is acceptable in this job, given the time I have; that’s all anyone else accomplishes.” At first, this realistic thought will seem false, as though you are just fooling yourself. Only with time and repetition does realistic thinking – the truth – begin to feel true to you. Eventually you will come to accept realistic thoughts.