Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs)
When we become stressed
we can think more negatively. Its important to remember that you might still
occasionally have some of these thoughts when you are not depressed. The difference
is that you would generally dismiss them from your mind. When you are depressed
however, these thoughts are around all the time.
Lets look at these negative thoughts in more
thoughts tend to be AUTOMATIC. They are not actually arrived at on the basis
of reason and logic, they just seem to happen.
these thoughts are UNREASONABLE and UNREALISTIC. They serve no purpose. All they do is make you feel bad and they get in the way of what you really want out
of life. If you think about them carefully, you will probably find that you have
jumped to a conclusion which is not necessarily correct. For example, thinking
someone doesnt like you because they havent phoned recently.
though these thoughts are unreasonable they probably SEEM REASONABLE and correct to you at the time.
more you believe and accept negative thoughts, the WORSE YOU ARE LIKELY TO FEEL. If
you allow yourself to get into the grip of these thoughts, you find you are viewing everything in a negative way.
(Ref: Depression and Low Mood: A Self-help guide,
Northumberland NHS 1999)
Automatic Negative Thoughts and Stress
Negative Automatic Thoughts have the following
They are automatic
They pop up in your head without
2. They are unhelpful
They maintain the depression
and make it hard to change.
3. They are believable
So much so that you dont think
to question them.
4. They are persistent
They can be very hard to switch
off it takes effort.
Automatic Negative Thoughts
We all have automatic negative thoughts but these increase when we
are stressed. Automatic negative thoughts as the term says, can be automatic. They are not based on logical reasoning, they just occur. Automatic thoughts are habitual ways of thinking.
Automatic negative thoughts usually occur spontaneously. When they dont, we can use any one of the following techniques to elicit them.
Focus on the other components of the problem (mood, behaviour) and notice
the associated thoughts.
Focus on an image and notice what words come to mind.
Use imagination in mentally recreating the situation, perhaps with someone
else in your role. Notice what thoughts you have.