5 Causes Of Catastrophic Thoughts (and How To Deal With Them)

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Why can’t I stop imagining the worst possible consequences of any situation that arises? Why does my brain think about things I don’t want to think about? This is called catastrophic thoughts; they appear in the mind unexpectedly and involuntarily, altering emotions to an extremely intense level.

Both children and adults can have these types of recurring thoughts, and although there is very little chance that the tragic outcomes that the patient imagines will ever happen, they cannot abandon them and as a result, they cause significant emotional discomfort. Now, we want to clarify that having a catastrophic thought occasionally does not mean that we are suffering from any disorder. On the contrary, it is natural that from time to time we are assailed by some unfounded or unlikely fear, such as thinking that the plane is going down or that a close relative may have a traffic accident.

However, if these ideas happen recurrently, we could say that it is a type of cognitive distortion On many occasions, attending to these types of thoughts can become very overwhelming and can make it difficult for a person to realize that these ideas are affecting their quality of life.

Therefore, in today’s article, we will focus on understanding the causes behind catastrophic thoughts. Ultimately, understanding the source of a problem is a great first step toward getting rid of it. Obviously, we will also try to explain how these types of thoughts can be dealt with so that they do not interfere with the day-to-day life of the person who suffers from it.

What are catastrophic thoughts?

Catastrophic people assume not only that the worst thing they can imagine will happen, but that when it happens they will not be able to cope with it By focusing on that single interpretation, they lose sight of other possible alternatives that may arise and ignore all the evidence from the past that shows that they have known how to deal with similar situations before.

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It is also common for them to confuse possibility with probability: It is possible that the roof falls on you while you sleep, but the probability is extremely small. So it’s not worth suffering for this, is it? Catastrophizing can start as a small thought and then escalate quickly. So we have to be careful with the thoughts we feed.

In short, people who have this type of cognitive distortion assume the worst possible scenario and that their intention is more focused on what will go wrong than on what could go well. We must keep in mind that human beings have the wonderful ability to consider the consequences of a decision or anticipate events that could occur in the future to be prepared But, by not stopping thinking about the worst possible outcome, no matter how unlikely it may be, it is an alarm that exposes the high probability of suffering from a distortion in thinking.

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Causes of catastrophic thoughts

When talking about psychological disorders, we must always keep in mind that there are several factors that trigger behavior. That is, there is no single variable that comes into play when developing these thought patterns. Therefore, below, we present some causes that could be behind catastrophic thoughts:

1. Past experiences:

Some people may have learned to put themselves at their worst as a defense mechanism In other words, some people have experienced certain distressing situations, such as a divorce, having an alcoholic parent, having suffered physical or psychological abuse, etc. These people can develop a catastrophic way of thinking that, at one point, could even help them cope with their situation, but that is no longer needed. However, they cannot let go of that thought pattern.

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2. Anxiety:

Research suggests that people who tend to have catastrophic thoughts are more likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder. In fact, negative thoughts and anxiety are often closely related.

3. Low self-esteem:

Recurring negative and catastrophic thoughts can also be a sign that the person has a poor perception of themselves, especially if these ideas are related to their lack of skills or qualities. That is to say, the person has a conviction of not being able to face problems when they arrive

4. Control:

The need for control of some people leads them to try to anticipate any eventuality and prepare for it, this leads them to catastrophism and hypervigilance.

5. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD):

It is very common for people with OCD to become obsessed with the possibility of important harmful events, such as having an illness or being contaminated with pathogens, suffering robberies or incursions into the home or gas disasters, for example. This can lead to experiencing negative or catastrophic thoughts.

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How to deal with catastrophic thoughts

At this point in the article, you may be wondering what can be done to deal with the catastrophic thoughts that flood your mind. Here are some tips: