Cognitive Distortions: Miserable and Dangerous


Depression is a master manipulator. It spins negative stories and makes you think these tall tales are cold, hard facts.

But they’re really cognitive distortions.

This includes everything from believing something is wrong with you when your friend cancels dinner to assuming bad things always happen to you to being convinced you’ll never feel better ever again.

Cognitive distortions can lead to self-destructive behavior and dangerous situations, such as not reaching out to others for support, not eating, skipping medication, drinking excessively, driving too fast and self-harming, said Serani, also author of the books Living with Depression and Depression and Your Child.

One of her patients revealed that her son was so depressed that he climbed a tower’s electrical wires to see if he could touch the top one. This could’ve killed him. Thankfully, the police were able to stop him.

Overcoming Cognitive Distortions

The best way to overcome cognitive distortions is to seek treatment. When depression is moderate to severe, it seizes your ability to think and reason clearly, Serani said. “This is what makes depression one of the most lethal of mental disorders.”

When people with depression start therapy, one of the first symptoms to improve is the distorted thinking, Serani said. Psychotherapy “brings about hope, reduces helplessness and aids in problem solving.”

In fact, Serani cited research that has shown that the very pathways in the frontal lobe that depression damages seem to improve with psychotherapy. She also noted that antidepressants can help with distortions, as well, but typically take up to several weeks to work. (Margarita Tartakovsky, Psych Central)

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