Catastrophizing

I occasionally work with clients who catastrophize.  Sometimes, they are not even aware that they are using their “magical magnifying minds” to actually cause themselves  to suffer needlessly from anxiety and depression.

What does “catastrophize” mean?  One meaning is that when something happens, our mind goes to the worst case scenery, creating anxiety, worry, and panic attacks.  For example, the company that you work for has laid off several of your colleagues.  You immediately tell yourself, “I’m next”, and set into motion a thought process and perspective that leads you to suffer emotionally.  Remember, our thoughts and attitudes about a situation cause our feelings, not the actual situation itself.  Your thoughts may include, “I’ll never find another job”, “I won’t be able to pay the bills”, until you end up with a mental picture  where you see yourself as broke and homeless.

Our news programming and culture add to these negative thoughts, fueling the fire, so to speak.  If I am treating a client for anxiety, and catastrophizing is adding to the intensity and frequency of symptoms, I will utilize Cognitive Behavioral therapy techniques to help my clients begin to minimize the effects of their tendency to catastrophize.  For example, I will have my client provide factual evidence supporting these thoughts.  In 99% of my cases, there is no evidence that their worst thoughts will become a reality.  I also ask my clients to journal their thoughts relating to their anxiety symptom presentation, and, when they notice they are catastrophizing, to “catch themselves” early in the process, and replace the thought with more positive and realistic thoughts, based on their own personal situation.   I offer more proven CBT techniques to help with this common cause of anxiety.

If you believe that you may be suffering from unnecessary anxiety and worry, please contact me, knowing our conversations will be held in confidence, and you may be on your way to a more peaceful, serene and emotionally healthy way of being.  Call me at 720-233-1126 to schedule an appointment or, for new and prospective clients, a  free 15 minute phone consultation.

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