50 Examples Of Negative Thoughts When You Have Depression

The Depression Project

10 min read

Hi there,

Danny & Mathew Baker from The Depression Project here, and in order to help people with depression feel less alone - as well as to help their supporters better understand depression - we recently asked our 1,000,000+ person Facebook community the following question:

What are some examples of negative thoughts that people with depression often experience?

Below, we've included 50 of the most common responses, and if you struggle with negative thoughts such as these yourself, in this article, we'll also share with you several strategies to overcome these negative thoughts.

Are you ready, our friend?

50 Examples Of Negative Thoughts When You Have Depression

  1. "I cannot do things I know I'm capable of"

  2. "All my friends and family hate me"

  3. "I'm never going to get better"

  4. "I can't do anything right"

  5. "I'm such a failure"

  6. "I can't even clean my house - I must be completely worthless"

  7. "Everyone would be better off without me"

  8. "I can't do this anymore"

  9. "I wish I was more like him / her - they're so much better than me"

  10. "There's no point to any of this"

  11. "Nothing good I achieve will ever be noticed"

  12. "I'm a terrible mother/father"

  13. "No-one would notice if I just disappeared"

  14. "My friends all talk trash about me behind my back"

  15. "I'm so ugly"

  16. "Something bad always happens"

  17. "My depression just brings everyone else down with me - I'm so selfish"

  18. "I don't deserve the love of anyone in my life"

  19. "I can never make up for all the harm I've caused"

  20. "My parents must be so disappointed in me"

  21. "I'm a loser who will never amount to anything"

  22. "I'm no fun to be around"

  23. "I should have said _______ - I'm such an idiot"

  24. "I'd rather be anyone else than me"

  25. "Life is just a burden"

  26. "I'm such a drama queen - the smallest things always trigger me"

  27. "I bet my parents regret having me"

  28. "I'll never be enough for a romantic partner"

  29. "If I died no-one would go to my funeral"

  30. "The poor treatment I receive from others is all my fault"

  31. "I'm not depressed, I'm just lazy"

  32. "I'm such a weak person"

  33. "If anyone really cared about me, they would be with me"

  34. "I don't deserve to reach out for help because I'm just a burden"

  35. "The world is so cruel and cold"

  36. "People just tolerate me - they don't like me"

  37. "I turn everyone in my life bad"

  38. "I should be doing better in my life by now"

  39. "I've squandered every good opportunity I've ever had"

  40. "I don't deserve to have my depression, people have it so much worse"

  41. "My life isn't as good as I want it to be - so therefore it's terrible"

  42. "Anyone would hate me if they got to know me"

  43. "I will die alone"

  44. "I'm so pathetic that I can't even take my own life"

  45. "I don't deserve anything good to ever happen to me"

  46. "Everyone who likes me is lying to me"

  47. "No-one will ever truly understand me"

  48. "I've never achieved anything"

  49. "I'm selfish for thinking about myself so much"

  50. "No-one wants to hear my opinion"

How To Overcome These Negative Thoughts (And Other Examples Like Them) When You Have Depression

OK, so now that we've identified some of the most common examples of negative thoughts that people with depression experience, dear reader, we'd next like to share with you three different strategies you can implement to help you realise that even though your negative thoughts can be really convincing, they are not accurate reflections of reality.

And, this is really, really important, because once you can see this, then rather than buying in to them and having them consequently fuel your depression, your negative thoughts will all of a sudden lose a lot of their power over you, and therefore become much, much easier to dismiss and let go of.

Strategy #1 To Overcome Your Negative Thoughts When You Have Depression: Bring Awareness To The Evidence That Disputes Your Negative Thoughts

So, the first strategy we want to share with you to help you realise that your negative thoughts are lies is to:

Ask yourself: What is the evidence to suggest that my negative thoughts are false?

Now, the reason why this can be so beneficial is because when you take a step back and examine the evidence that is contrary to what your negative thoughts are telling you, then you'll often end up with a much more accurate perception of reality, and realise that you're thinking through an overly pessimistic and/or critical lens.

To see how this can work in practice, let's have a look at a few different examples.

Example Negative Thought #1: "I didn’t do as well in my exams as I wanted to, so that means that I’m stupid, that I’m a failure, and that I’ll never get a good job after university."

However, evidence to the contrary might be:

  • You did well enough in your high school exams to get into university, and you’ve done well in other university exams before this – which proves that you are not stupid.

  • Not doing as well as you wanted to in one set of exams does not define you as a failure. After all, nobody achieves their goals 100% of the time, and therefore, it’s unrealistic to think that you always will, and it’s unfair to label yourself as a failure when you don’t.

  • When you apply for jobs in the future, you're going to be judged on so much more than just this particular set of exams – and so not doing as well as you wanted to does not mean that you’ll never get a good job.

Example Negative Thought #2: "I snapped at my daughter this morning, so that means I’m a terrible parent."

However, evidence to the contrary might be:

  • While you no doubt regret snapping at your daughter this morning, it does not mean that you're a terrible parent. This is because it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to behave perfectly all of the time, and when you don’t behave perfectly, it does not automatically mean that you're “terrible”.

  • Even though you snapped at your daughter this morning, throughout the previous week you’ve helped her with her homework, cooked her favourite dinner and taken her and her friends to the movies – all of which proves that you're actually a very good parent.

Example Negative Thought #3: "I struggle to do even the simplest of things like brushing my teeth, shaving and having a shower - I'm so worthless."

However, evidence to the contrary would include, for example:

  • The fact that feeling exhausted is a direct consequence of depression, and that for this reason, it's actual perfectly normal and understandable that you'd find it difficult to do the "little things" like taking care of your personal hygiene. Therefore, you struggling to brush your teeth and have a shower is due to your depression - not because you're "worthless".

  • Additionally, further evidence to invalidate this thought would also include all of the reasons why you are in fact worthy - such as:

    • All of the good things you've done, including:

      • The positive impact you've had on others;

      • The contributions you've made at work;

      • The goals you've set for yourself and achieved;

      • The positive steps you've taken in your personal life over the years.

    • Your positive habits - with regards to, for example:

      • Your family;

      • Your social life;

      • How you treat other people;

      • Your work;

      • Your finances;

      • The environment;

      • Your physical and mental health.

    • The times you've been resilient in the face of adversity - which proves how strong of a person you really are.

    • Your positive characteristics, including:

      • Your personality traits;

      • Your positive physical characteristics;

      • Your talents.

Example Negative Thought #4: "What I'm experiencing right now is so difficult ... I'll never be able to get through it."

However, evidence to the contrary could include, for example:

  • The fact that you've survived every difficult thing that you've ever been through before - which is evidence to suggest that you're actually much stronger than you give yourself credit for, and that you'll be able to survive what you're going through now as well.

Strategy #2 To Overcome Your Negative Thoughts When You Have Depression: Reframe Your Negative Thoughts In A More Positive, Self-Compassionate And Accurate Way

The second technique we want to share to help you realise that your negative thoughts are lies is to:

Ask yourself: Is there a more positive, self-compassionate, accurate way that I could be looking at things?

Asking yourself this question is an example of "cognitive reframing", and the reason why it can be so helpful is because there usually is indeed a more positive, self-compassionate, accurate way of viewing things!

To illustrate how cognitive reframing can work in practice, let's once again look at a handful of common examples.

Example Negative Thought #1: "I'm such a burden for being in a low mood and needing my partner's support every night this week."

However, a more positive, self-compassionate and accurate way of viewing this might be:

“It is OK to not be OK, and in the same way that I wouldn’t judge my partner and think that they are a burden if it was them who needed support, I shouldn’t judge myself either. After all, partners are there to uplift each other.”

Example Negative Thought #2: “I’m so weak for breaking down over such a small issue."

However, a more positive, self-compassionate and accurate way of viewing this might be:

“I’m actually really strong for carrying the weight of depression’s challenges for so long, and it’s OK to have moments where it’s too heavy for me."

Example Negative Thought #3: "I'm never going to overcome my depression."

However, a more positive, self-compassionate and accurate way of viewing this might be:

"Just because I haven't overcome my depression yet, it doesn't mean that I never will. In fact, if I get treatment, read depression self-help books, take online courses by therapists, and do everything else I possibly can to beat my depression, then there's a really good chance that I eventually will!"

Example Negative Thought #4: “There is no point in being alive anymore."

However, a more positive and accurate way of viewing this would be:

"I'm really, really deep in a depressive episode right now, which means that right now, my thoughts are grounded in pessimism and hopelessness as opposed to reality. If I was in a much better headspace, then I'd be able to see that life is indeed worth living."

Strategy #3 To Overcome Your Negative Thoughts When You Have Depression: Asking Yourself The "Golden Question"

The third strategy we want to share with you to help you overcome your negative thoughts is to ask yourself what we call the "golden question" because it can be so, so enlightening:

If a friend was in my position, would I be telling them the same negative, critical things that I'm currently telling myself?

Asking yourself this question can be extremely powerful, because it has the effect of distancing you from your thoughts and looking at them from a different, more objective angle. And, when you do this, you'll often realise that you’re being really, really hard on yourself.

For example, if your friend didn’t do as well in a set of exams as they wanted to, then would you think that they are a failure and that they will never get a good job?

If your friend snapped at their daughter, would you think that they are a terrible parent?

If your friend had depression and was struggling to brush their teeth, have a shower or do their chores, then would you think that they are "lazy", "useless", "pathetic" and/or "worthless"?

If your friend needed support because they were struggling with depression, then would you think that they are a burden?

If your friend made a simple mistake, then would you think that they are an idiot?

If someone posted something on social media that your friend hadn’t achieved yet, then would you think that they are "not good enough"?

In all of these instances, we're guessing that you would not think any of these negative, critical things about your friend - are we right? And, if this is true, then it's proof that you really are being overly critical and judgmental of yourself, and that you instead need to offer yourself much more love, care and compassion.

We really hope you've found this article helpful, our friend, and moving forwards, we really hope that the strategies we've shared with you help you to fight back against your negative thoughts, and realise they're lies that depression is telling you.

All our love,

Danny & Mathew Baker,

Co-founders of The Depression Project.
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