The Anxious Mind & Catastrophic Thinking

Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling anxious, your thoughts can get blown out of proportion? You might look back on a day that you were feeling especially anxious and upon reflection, you might think, “what was I thinking? Why was I so worked up… for nothing?”. Catastrophic thinking happens to everyone from time to time. Your adolescent son taking your car out and missing curfew might first initiate thoughts such as “he’s gonna hear it when he gets home!” to “what if something bad happened, like an accident” to “maybe he’s gravely injured”. These are normal thoughts to have once in a while but for the individual who is suffering from anxiety, these thoughts are usually more than just a once-in-a-while occurrence. These thoughts are often a regular occurrence that results in a lot of emotional distress for the individual.

Individuals with anxiety often magnify and construct events or difficulties in unrealistic or unhelpful ways and this leads to excessive worry, doubt and insecurity. They may interpret a situation very differently than someone without anxiety. For example, a phone call that has not been returned by a friend may be interpreted as “maybe she’s just busy” by the non-anxious mind whereas the anxious mind may interpret this event as “maybe she is upset with me…after all, we did have that argument four years ago…maybe she doesn’t value my friendship anymore…maybe…maybe…”

Sound familiar?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can reduce catastrophic thinking by helping the individual change the over-the-top, unrealistic thoughts into more realistic and evidence-based thoughts. This, in turn, reduces anxiety and it’s resulting emotional distress.

Happy Wednesday 🙂