When You Believe Everything is a Catastrophe

Catastrophic Thinking

I can easily turn things into a catastrophe in my thinking. A recent example happened this week when my little French Poodle mix stopped eating. I took Nikki to the veterinarian and reported her symptoms. Blood tests and X-rays revealed nothing. The vet suggested an ultrasound if she didn’t get better; I thought it was cancer. One of my daughters said, “Dad, stop thinking this is a catastrophe.” Indeed, Nikki was healthy and had an upset stomach. Believing that a catastrophe is about to happen is not unusual in my thinking.

I am much less prone to thinking in terms of disaster. There are various reasons I have improved. One of them is psychotherapy. As a young man, I was unhappy with this catastrophic thinking. My psychologist pointed out that I was living as though a sword was about to drop on my head.

What is catastrophe thinking?

  • Catastrophe thinking is when your mind twists information into an imagined scenario of everything that can go wrong. It is a type of cognitive distortion. 

What is cognitive distortion?

A cognitive distortion is a pattern of inaccurate or irrational thinking that can lead to negative emotions and behaviors. It involves thoughts not based on reality and can lead to distorted perceptions of ourselves, others, and the world. Examples of cognitive distortions include unfounded assumptions, sweeping generalizations, and thinking the worst. Individuals can improve their mental health and well-being by identifying and challenging cognitive distortions.

Believing everything is a catastrophe blocks tackling challenges as problems appear more daunting. You could be afraid to drive for fear of injury or car damage.


  • I expect more bad things to happen when bad things happen to me.”
  • “When bad things happen to me, I blame myself for them.”
  • “I have no control over the things that happen to me.”
  • “When bad things happen to me, I cannot stop thinking about how much worse things will get.”
  • “When I have a physical problem, I likely think it is very serious.”
  • “When I fail at something, I give up all hope.”
  • “I respond to stress by making things worse than they are.”
  • Expecting a disaster is when your mind twists information into an imagined scenario of everything that can go wrong. It is a type of cognitive distortion. 

Some people can be overwhelmed by catastrophic thinking, and it’s hard to recognize unless they acknowledge the issue. 

Ways to stop catastrophic thinking

Catastrophe can be a difficult mental habit to break. However, it’s possible to change the way you think with practice.

  • Mindfulness practice

Studies show that mindfulness practices can reduce catastrophic thinking connected to pain. One practice to reduce disaster thinking is journaling.

  • Journaling

You can use a notebook, pen, or voice memo app if you don’t want to write to record your thoughts when you begin a disaster. Journaling can help you keep track of thought patterns and help you stop thinking disaster. Consider scheduling time during your week to review your journal entries and write the recurring themes you notice.

  • Would you say your negative thoughts to someone else?

Voicing out loud your negative thoughts instead of in your head might be helpful. Saying aloud, “My boss wants to see me fire me. I am a failure,” or “I feel pain. I must be dying,” could be enough to make you see your thoughts might be irrational. You’d probably not tell your partner, child, or colleague what you think. If not, consider asking yourself why.

  • Challenging yourself

Recognizing when you spiral can help you challenge yourself to stop the cycle. You can practice moments of stillness to connect with how you feel in that moment. Over time, the practice could help you develop an awareness of how to manage your thoughts.

Take 1 minute to observe your surroundings. Practice verbalizing what you observe.

  • Exercise

Exercise can reduce anxiety and stress.

You may add daily movement, such as

  • walking
  • yoga
  • water aerobics
  • pilates

For children and adults alike, turning everything into a catastrophe comes down to blowing things out of proportion. It creates barriers to facing challenges because problems seem much larger and harder to handle. You may fear getting injured or disfigured in accidents or damaging your car beyond repair, so you may avoid driving.

One last suggestion. Limit the time you spend watching the news, and be careful about what you view on Television. Being aware of the news is important, but spending over 30 minutes viewing news items is unnecessary.

Television programs can be violent and promote catastrophic thinking.



Find Relief from Anxiety with Mindful Meditation

Find Relief from Anxiety with Mindful Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation help individuals gain mental clarity. It also helps to manage stress and improve their understanding of themselves and their surroundings. As depicted in the photo, meditation focuses on “Live the Moment.”

One of the many types of meditation is Mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It involves awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, sensations, and environment. Included in this is accepting them as they are. Mindfulness can be practiced daily, for example, by paying full attention to what you do, such as eating, walking, or listening to someone. There are also formal mindfulness practices, such as mindfulness meditation.

Meditation is a way to focus on the mind and avoid intrusive thoughts. Mindfulness meditation is just one form of meditation. The idea is to sit upright in a straight-back chair or on the floor. The way to avoid thinking is to focus on breathing. Each time thoughts intrude, and that happens often, we refocus on breathing. Most people begin the practice of meditation with twenty-minute sessions. Then, the time is increased to thirty minutes or more.

There are many benefits to meditation. For example, it can activate the body’s relaxation response, helping to reduce stress. It’s also been associated with increased well-being and happiness. Findings show it can improve memory, attention, and decision-making skills. Research has linked it to reducing insomnia and improving sleep. 

Guided meditation is a technique used to help people relax and focus their minds. It involves listening to a professional on a recording that leads the listener through mental images and calming thoughts. Guided meditation reduces stress and anxiety, promotes relaxation, and improves overall well-being. This practice is often used as therapy or a personal growth and development tool. It can be done alone or in a group setting and tailored to meet individual needs and preferences.

Walking is a simple and accessible form of physical activity that offers a multitude of health and mental health benefits. Below are some of the notable benefits.

Walking can:

  1. Improve heart health. It can lower the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease by helping to improve circulation and strengthen the heart.
  2. Burn calories and can help maintain or lose weight with a balanced diet.
  3. It helps tone the muscles and improves the strength and flexibility of joints. For people with arthritis, it can be especially beneficial in easing pain and stiffness.
  4. Walking helps improve balance and coordination, which can reduce the risk of falls in seniors.
  5. Help lower blood sugar levels and improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which benefits people with type 2 diabetes.
  6. Help boost the immune system, making the body more adept at fighting illnesses.
  7. Combining physical activity, fresh air, and nature can have a calming effect on the mind.
  8. Help with better sleep.
  9. Allow the mind to wander, and may lead to increased creativity and improved problem-solving skills.
  10. Being with friends or in groups can provide social interaction that benefits mental health and creates a sense of belonging.

Incorporating walking into one’s daily routine can be a simple and effective way to enhance physical and mental health. 

I use guided meditation. There is an app that I use called “Calm.” While you can subscribe for free, the sound quality of the paid version is far superior. Meditation is used for a variety of purposes. Those purposes are listed in Calm, where the subscriber can select from various purposes. There are meditations to calm stress, reduce anxiety, promote sleep, walk in the woods, and many more. The user can select from a variety of lengths of time. For example, the time ranges from ten to thirty minutes. The people who guide the meditations are experts at what they do. Many of them are well known.

Meditate. It’s the best medicine of all.


What is Depression?

What is depression?

 A Client is talking to a psychologist. 

A quote from Stephen Fry:

“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.”

“Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”

― Stephen Fry.    

Stephen Fry is an actor who has struggled with Bipolar Disorder.

I’m an experienced psychotherapist with 40 years of experience and a lifelong sufferer of depression. After all the facts are read below, depression is a miserable experience. It has been miserable not only for me but also for my family. I can report that medication and group and individual therapy were of enormous help. Suffering depression has made me fully understand my clients and be able to help them recover. My late wife, daughters, and friends gave me warmth, love, and support, which helped me through my dark times.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition affecting mood, energy, and activity levels. It is a mood disorder characterized by periods of depression and periods of mania or hypomania. 

The symptoms of depressive episodes in bipolar disorder are the same as those of major depression. They include:

  • Overwhelming sadness.
  • Low energy and fatigue.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness.
  • Loss of enjoyment of things that were once pleasurable for you.
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
  • Uncontrollable crying.
  • Irritability.
  • Increased need for sleep.
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep.
  • A change in appetite causes weight loss or gain.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide (suicidal ideation).

If you’re experiencing suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide), seeking immediate care is important. Call 911 or the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. 

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Major depressive disorder (MDD) was ranked as the third cause of the burden of disease worldwide in 2008 by WHO, which has projected that this disease will rank first by 2030.

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies, or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

Symptoms of depression can cause serious issues with day-to-day activities. Some people may feel miserable without really knowing why.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

Persistent depressive disorder is often known as dysthymia or chronic major depression. In the past, this condition was considered a personality disorder, which connotes a permanent, pervasive nature. However, it is likely better conceptualized as a temporary state that can change. 

Major depression includes intense sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, suicidal thoughts, and low mood. In dysthymia, one tends to experience fewer and milder symptoms.

Major depression occasionally happens, while dysthymia’s symptoms last longer and cause ongoing life disruption.

Treatment for major depression typically involves medication and therapy. Dysthymia is often treated with psychotherapy long-term. 

In major depression, the symptoms tend to prevent one from carrying out day-to-day functions, including going to work or daily routines. People with dysthymia often manage daily life and social relationships but have difficulty feeling positive emotions.

Despite the differences, both disorders impede one’s mental well-being, impairing social and occupational functioning. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve the quality of life with major depression and dysthymia. Suppose someone suspects they have either major depression or dysthymia. In that case, it’s always best to consult a physician or mental health professional to assess symptoms.

Major depression has a range of causes, including biological, environmental, genetic, and psychological. Here are some of the primary factors that contribute to causing major depression:

Many studies have found that physical changes in the brain’s structure and function are linked to major depression. Neurotransmitter imbalances are linked to depression.

Family history can considerably affect a person developing major depression. Research shows that depression is more likely in people with relatives with the condition.

Traumatic events can lead to major depression.

How a person thinks and personality can make them more prone to experiencing major depression. For example, someone with low self-esteem or negative thinking patterns is more likely to develop depression. In contrast, someone with a positive self-image and a more optimistic outlook is less likely to experience depression.

Social isolation and lack of support can lead to depression. 

A combination of factors usually causes major depression. It affects different individuals differently, depending on their personal experiences and characteristics. Early recognition of the condition and timely intervention can help ease symptoms and provide a path to relief and recovery. Seek professional help if you or someone you know is experiencing depression.

Major depression is a common mental health issue that can harm work, social, and personal relationships. It is a serious medical illness that can affect a person’s mood, thoughts, behavior, and physical health. People with major depression may struggle with routine tasks because of overwhelming sadness.

Major depression is caused by genetic predisposition, neurotransmitter imbalance, stress, and environment. Some major life events, such as divorce, job loss, disaster, and negative events, might trigger major depression. 

Antidepressant medication such as SSRIs and SSRNIs is often recommended for people who suffer from major depression. Medication helps balance some of the chemical imbalances in the brain and helps ease many symptoms related to depression.

However, antidepressant medications eventually lose their effectiveness. That is why the MD replaces that prescription with another or adds something to the existing medication. The best recommendation is for a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

I urge anyone experiencing depression to get help. 


The Scapegoat or Sacrificial Lamb

The bottom line is that making someone the scapegoat is abuse, whether that person is a child or an adult. Another way to phrase the problem is no one wants to be the sacrificial lamb.

Scape Goat or the Sacrificial Lamb

“The psychoanalytic theory holds that unwanted thoughts and feelings can be unconsciously projected onto another, who then becomes a scapegoat for one’s own problems.” 

“It’s too easy to criticize a man when he’s out of favor, and to make him shoulder the blame for everybody else’s mistakes.”

Leo Tolstoy

During the many years of my practice, I encountered some clients who complained they felt picked on and abused by their family of origin. Even though they were now adults, they reported feeling distressed and depressed over this problem.

While scapegoating happens, family members are unaware of what they are doing. They would deny it if confronted with their behavior. Often, scapegoating begins in childhood and continues into and throughout adulthood. For various reasons, these adults, during their childhoods, were the target of accusations, blame, criticism, and ostracism.

Why would a family choose a loved one to bully and scapegoat? The answer has much to do with the scapegoating concept and its purpose. Scapegoating is often a way for families to hide problems they cannot face. These problems include incest, parental infidelity, alcoholism, mental illness, and alcohol and drug abuse. These are just a few examples.

A parent with Borderline Personality or Narcissistic Personality Disorder can vent their frustrations, aggression, and hatred against one child by uniting the others who are made to believe that this one sibling is guilty of everything. In this scenario, the parent goads the other children to pick on the one. None of these stop in adulthood. Of course, the child whose personality is most like the personality disordered patient is targeted because that parent sees in the child everything they hate about themselves.

There is no way to underestimate the fears, self-hatred, and desperation the victims of scapegoating come to feel. The fact is that these people become depressed, anxious, withdrawn, and even, in the worst cases, suicidal. It is common for them to believe what the family tells them so that they accept all the blame and finger-pointing at them.

Individual and family therapy for helping people in this situation. Family members are often unwilling to attend because they believe nothing is wrong. Sometimes a client walks away from the family of origin and severs all ties. Severing family ties is always challenging.

The bottom line is that making someone the scapegoat is abuse, whether that person is a child or an adult. Another way to phrase the problem is no one wants to be the sacrificial lamb.




Children, Teens and Suicide

Suicides among young people continue to be a severe problem. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children, adolescents, and young adults ages 15-to-24-year-olds.

Most children and adolescents who attempt suicide have a significant mental health disorder, usually depression. Among younger children, suicide attempts are often impulsive. They may be associated with feelings of sadness, confusion, anger, or problems with attention and hyperactivity.

Now, however, childhood and teen suicide statistics are complicated by the Covid Pandemic. Even though schools are now open in most communities throughout the United States, parents report that many young people do not want to return to school. While remote learning carried many disadvantages, some children found it reassuring to remain at home with the family.

Children’s suicide attempts have increased during the COVID-19 Pandemic.


COVID-19 has led to significant changes in the dynamics of children’s suicide attempts, according to the results of a cross-sectional study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association


“Recent studies have reported a deterioration in children’s mental health since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with an increase in anxiety and mood disorders,” Anthony Cousien, Ph.D., of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Paris in France, and colleagues wrote. “Rates of suicide ideation and suicide attempts among children were also higher when COVID-19–related stressors heightened in 2020. 

The researchers analyzed data of 830 children aged 15 years or younger (mean age, 13.5 years; 1:4 ratio of boys to girls) with suicide attempt history admitted to the pediatric Emergency Department of a single hospital between January 2010 and April 2021. They defined a suicide attempt as “a nonfatal self-directed potentially injurious behavior with any intent to die because of the behavior.”

Cousien and colleagues speculated that children’s specific sensitivity to mitigation measures, adverse effects on family health and economic conditions, increased screen time, and social media use or bereavement may have affected this acceleration.

Social media is also a significant risk factor for teen suicide.

Suicide rates among teenagers have seen a drastic increase from 2007 to the present. Social media has become a prevalent way of life. Another risk factor may be media accounts of suicide that romanticize or dramatize the description of suicidal deaths, possibly leading to an increased number of suicides.

Among teenagers, suicide attempts come with feelings of stress, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, disappointment, and loss. For some teens, suicide may appear to solve their problems.

Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders. The child or adolescent needs to have their illness recognized, diagnosed, and appropriately treated with a comprehensive treatment plan.

Thoughts about suicide and suicide attempts are often associated with depression. Besides depression, other risk factors include:

  • family history of suicide attempts
  • exposure to violence
  • impulsivity
  • aggressive or disruptive behavior
  • access to firearms
  • bullying
  • feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • acute loss or rejection

Children and adolescents thinking about suicide may make openly suicidal statements or comments such as, “I wish I was dead,” or “I won’t be a problem for you much longer.” Other warning signs associated with suicide can include:

  • changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • frequent or pervasive sadness
  • withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
  • frequent complaints about physical symptoms often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • a decline in the quality of schoolwork
  • preoccupation with death and dying

Young people thinking about suicide may also stop planning for or talking about the future. They may give away important possessions.

People often feel uncomfortable talking about suicide. However, asking your child or adolescent whether they are depressed or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Specific examples of such questions include:

  • Are you feeling sad or depressed?
  • Are you thinking about hurting or killing yourself?
  • Have you ever thought about hurting or killing yourself?

Rather than putting thoughts in your child’s head, these questions can assure that somebody cares and will give your child the chance to talk about problems.

Parents, teachers, and friends should always err on caution and safety. Any child or adolescent with suicidal thoughts or plans should be evaluated immediately by a trained mental health professional.

 No matter which boat you are in, remember that it doesn’t help to blame yourself as a parent.

Whether you are a parent, helping your teenager prevent suicide, or have lost your teenager to suicide, find a community and gather them close around you. You may find that this community is people in the church, friends, or other parents who have faced the same challenges. Keep a close connection with safe people and walk on this journey with others. Remember that you are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline




Coping Strategies for Anxiety and Stress During Corona Pandemic

Are you feeling irritable and short-tempered and getting into arguments at home? So many people are experiencing nervousness and restlessness? So many are finding it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep? You are not alone.

There are many things about which people feel stressed, anxious, and worried. For example, Coronavirus and social unrest are causing worry and fear. Also, many have lost jobs and their salaries. One of the most challenging things that many must deal with is that it isolates them at home—having to be indoors, whether alone or even with family, is extremely difficult. As a result, I hear from many people who feel irritable, angry, sensitive, anxious, and depressed. What can people do to help themselves deal better with these problems?

Here or some suggestions for coping during this difficult time:

  • While wearing masks go out for walks, whether alone, with family, or with friends. In doing so, it is essential to remember to maintain Social distancing.
  • Avoiding alcohol is extremely important. The reports are that many people are drinking to self-medicate their problems. Rather than working as self-medication, drinking worsens the problems. It creates irritability and the tendency to get into arguments at home.
  • Social interaction is essential. The frustration is that the Coronavirus makes it difficult to socialize. While wearing masks and maintaining social distance, it is possible to mix and necessary. I encourage people to chat as much as possible while maintaining safety in my psychotherapy practice.
  • Exercise is important. I know of one person who reported that they walk around their house as much as possible, including going upstairs and downstairs.
  • Owning a dog can help. People who own dogs understand they must be what walked. Two crucial goals or achieved for those who have the dog. One important goal is getting out of the house and walking, allowing for some exercise. Besides, I always remind my clients that it’s impossible to be isolated when you own a dog. Neighbors, children, and anyone will greet and pet the dog. That is often the beginning of a friendly chat.
  • One of the best medicines in the world, for most situations, is his humor. That is why I recommend watching funny television programs. These movies are comic and email humorous cartoons to family and friends. There is nothing like making jokes, laughing, smiling, having a sense of humor, or being suitable for the body and good for the soul.
  • Listening to music is one of the most soothing it will axing things a person can do.
  • I strongly recommend meditation. There is a beautiful app named CALM. Download this app to your cell phone. Sitting or lying down and listening to some meditations is hugely relieving. The reflections are guided or purely musical and, depending on your choice, can last from 5 to 30 minutes.
  • Under stress, many people breathe in a more shallow way without realizing it’s happening. Instead, it’s essential to take a full breath, count to five, let it out, and repeat two or three times. You can feel the body relax.
  • Additional strategies include avoiding watching the news.
  • Stretch to relax muscle tension—deep muscle relaxation techniques.
  • Nature helps a great deal, such as walking in the local park.
  • Avoid turning to alcohol to self-medicate. That only worsens all the symptoms mentioned, including domestic violence and child abuse.

People are experiencing feeling shut into their homes as frustrating. There is evidence that this has resulted in increased alcohol consumptions, domestic violence, and child abuse. It is essential to turn to psychotherapy for this and all the other reasons mentioned if the different strategies do not work.

It may seem silly, but it’s also important to smile. An old song, “smile, and the entire world smiles with you.” It is accurate, and evidence points out that smiling helps us feel better. 

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