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Are You a Catastrophizer?

man meets with therapist

If you find yourself constantly thinking about how things might go wrong, looking for every possible threat to yours and your loved ones’ safety, and unable to accept a good thing when it comes your way, you might be a catastrophizer.  Catastrophizing refers to the tendency to always expect that a catastrophe is just around the corner. It is a common thought pattern for those with anxiety and depression and can take a serious toll on your mental health and wellbeing.  Catastrophizing also requires a great deal of mental energy and may be keeping you from your full potential, personally and professionally.  Despite the negative mental and emotional consequences, people that regularly catastrophize usually feel as if the anticipation of every possible threat is a productive use of cognitive energy.  You may feel that by imagining every unlikely disaster, you will be better prepared if any pain or danger comes your way. You may also feel that by expecting the worst, it won’t hurt quite as bad when the worst actually happens.  While a healthy bit of caution is normal and advisable in life, catastrophizing can keep you from taking risks and living in the moment. Along with living in a state of perpetual anxiety, always expecting terrible things to happen can keep you from building healthy relationships, learning new skills, and traveling.

Recognizing A Pattern

The first step in putting an end to catastrophizing is to acknowledge this destructive thought pattern and admit that it is doing more harm than good in your life.  Once you are aware of the problem, you can begin to work on healthier mental habits by countering each catastrophizing thought with at least two positive possibilities.  For example, when you find yourself contemplating all the ways a new relationship might end, counter those thoughts by imagining all the ways the relationship might grow and evolve in a positive way.  Over time, you can retrain your brain to stop wasting so much energy on preparing for the worst, and begin to live joyfully in the moment.  

Catastrophizing is a common symptom of anxiety and depression and can heighten the risk of substance abuse.  If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental health issues, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness.  If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.