AS@W Antidepressant Skills at Work: Dealing with Mood Problems in the Workplace
Realistic Thinking
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, people with depressed mood often begin to notice differences after only a few weeks of practicing this skill.

Stressful situations such as the following can trigger depressive thinking: an upcoming performance review; a social gathering with people you don’t know well; or a disagreement with a co-worker. In order to get the greatest benefit from this approach, you must pay particular attention to your thinking in situations that are likely to trigger depressive thoughts for you.

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

Write them here:








Stressful Situations

When you find yourself in these situations, deliberately practice fair and realistic thinking. Don’t assume that it will happen on its own. You 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 – it takes time before realistic thoughts have more influence over you than depressive ones.

You will probably find that at first, practicing the realistic thinking sounds false to you. Imagine that you’ve been thinking in an unrealistic way about your work, telling yourself “I need to complete all my work by the end of the week, otherwise it’s worthless”. Over time, regularly having this thought may make you feel like a failure. You realize that this is unrealistic thinking and come up with the fair and realistic thought “I am going to decide which tasks are most important and complete them before the end of the week”. 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.


Next: An example
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