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Psychological causes of depression


According to the Cognitive Theory of Depression, cognitive distortion or thought deviation is responsible for depression. Aron T Beck, an American psychiatrist, was the first to work on cognitive disturbance. Due to cognitive distortion, a person can misunderstand reality. Due to these cognitive distortions, a person’s thoughts become negative and his emotions also become negative. These deviant thoughts make a person depressed in difficult situations. The key to cognitive behavior therapy is to challenge and change these flawed thoughts. The cognitive distortions responsible for depression are briefly discussed.

Psychological causes of depression

Black– and– white (this is called all-or-nothing or polarized thinking):


Individuals look at situations in only two categories instead of in continuity. Example: If I don’t get to the top of the exam, it means I failed.




Negative predictions are made without considering other possible future outcomes. Example: I know, I can’t do anything good.


Disqualifying or discounting the positive:


The person considers himself by reasonably excluding his positive experience, work or qualities. Example: I did well on the test, but that doesn’t mean I’m capable; It’s a breakthrough.

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Emotional reasoning


These people think that something must be true because they feel it so strongly or they are giving up the evidence to the contrary. Example: I know I’ve finished most of my work successfully, I feel incompetent, so I still feel incompetent.




One puts a fixed label on oneself or another, regardless of the rhetoric or arguments. Example: I failed, he’s not good enough, etc.


Magnification / minimization:


When a person evaluates another person or a situation, he / she exaggerates his / her negativity unreasonably and decreases the positives. Example: Getting C grade in Bengali in the test proves how bad I am, but A + in other subjects does not mean that I am smart.


Selective abstraction (also called mental filter)


Instead of looking at the whole thing, one pays unreasonable attention to the negative. Example: Just because I passed a job test doesn’t mean I deserve a good job


Mind reading:


One believes that he knows what others are thinking, the other fails to consider the possibilities. Example: He assumes that his boss thinks he is incompetent for the job.




Someone comes to a negative conclusion that is far from the current situation. Example: (because I felt uncomfortable in the meeting) I don’t have what it takes to be a group leader, even though it wasn’t discussed.

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Someone who believes that others do not explain the alternatives to his behavior is behaving negatively because of it. Example: The rickshaw puller looks at me and smiles because I did something wrong.


Imperatives (Should and must statements):


These people use Should, must in words. Example: As a teacher, I should not cough.


Tunnel vision


One only sees the negative aspects of the situation. Example: After doing a lot of good work, if his subordinates can’t do a job properly, he will think, my people can’t do the right thing.


Read more : How to overcome depression?


Source: Cognitive behavioral therapy of Depression, Indian Journal of Psychiatry (2020)


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