When asked to point to causes for fatigue, mental exhaustion, and prolonged stress, most likely would not think of negative thinking. Yet, there is increasing evidence that people’s thought patterns and behaviors can substantially affect their physical and mental health. Part of countering the harmful symptoms of mental illness is identifying and countering negative thinking, one of the central facets of a dialectical behavior therapy program.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is one of the many treatment approaches offered by the Atlanta Center for Mental Health. Our team of clinical professionals will work with you to change negative thoughts and impulses into positive ones, providing you with the support necessary to build a more healthy future. To learn more, call Atlanta Center for Mental Health at 833.625.0458.

What is Negative Thinking?

Negative thinking can take a variety of forms. Negative thinking can come from mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, but may also arise from difficult life circumstances, toxic environments, substance abuse, or low self-esteem. Whatever the source of the negativity, frequent negative thinking can become embedded in the brain, forming neural pathways that reinforce the harmful assumptions of negative thinking. Some of the ways negative thinking can display itself include:

  • Negative self-talk – Engaging in an inner dialogue with yourself that diminishes your worth, accomplishments, and abilities while reinforcing your fears and negative self-image.
  • Cynicism – A broad distrust of people driven by the assumption that their motives are primarily self-serving.
  • All or nothing thinking – The assumption that things must be either good or bad. Any deviation from perfect performance is seen as a failure.
  • Catastrophizing – Taking an event and magnifying its importance to make it seem more devastating than it is.
  • Blaming – Putting responsibility for life’s uncontrollable circumstances on others or yourself.
  • Discounting the positive – Only noticing the bad in situations while minimizing the importance of positive experiences.

Effects of Negative Thinking

Everybody will experience negative thinking from time to time as they respond to disappointment, heartache, frustrations, and failures. However, over time negative thinking can increase your stress levels, make it difficult to express and regulate emotions, and exacerbate existing mental health struggles. These effects can be detrimental to your health and can pose both mental and physical harm. Some of the harmful effects of negative thinking can include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Chronic fatigue or pain
  • Diminished ability to think and reason
  • Memory loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system

These effects also go beyond the immediate physical and mental toll negative thinking can take. People who struggle with negative thinking and low self-esteem are less likely to value their well-being, leading to risk-taking behavior, substance abuse issues, toxic relationships, and poor nutrition.

How Atlanta Center for Mental Health Can Help Stop Negative Thinking

Even though negative thinking is associated with many physical and mental harms, positive thinking, such as love, gratefulness, peace, and forgiveness, is equally associated with positive health outcomes. Identifying and countering negative or self-destructive thoughts and replacing them with constructive ones can actively counter the harms of negative thinking.

Doing so is a central aspect of DBT and other cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches. In DBT, you will learn to accept yourself and your emotions while actively changing negative thinking. However, DBT is just one of the many evidence-based practices available at the Atlanta Center for Mental Health. We will work with you to identify your treatment needs and provide a unique individualized approach to treating your mental health struggles. If you or a loved one find yourself combating negative thinking, call Atlanta Center for Mental Health at 833.625.0458 or fill out our online contact form today.