Realistic Thinking

Challenge Depressive Thoughts

Challenging depressive thoughts means rethinking the situation where you felt so lousy. Use the exercise below to identify depressive thoughts and come up with realistic ways to reframe the situation.

  1. Start by briefly describing a situation where you felt your mood drop.
  2. Then, write down the thoughts that went along with your low mood.
  3. Using the list of kinds of depressive thinking, decide what kind of depressive thinking you were using.
  4. Finally, try to come up with more realistic ways of thinking about the situation.
Here are some questions that will help you.
  • What proof do I have?  
  • Would most people agree with this thought?
  • If not, what would be a more realistic thought?
  • Can I get more proof, like asking someone about the situation?
  • What would I say to a friend in a similar situation?
  • What is a less extreme way of looking at the situation?
  • What will happen if I think this way?  Is there another way of thinking that is more encouraging or useful?

Notice that it usually feels better to think realistic thoughts than depressive thoughts. It won’t be enough to come up with realistic thoughts just once. There are different kinds of situations where depressive thoughts make you feel miserable. Try using this exercise for other situations as well.

Each time you try coming up with realistic thoughts, it becomes easier.