What is Catastrophizing, and How Can I Stop?

When someone catastrophizes, he or she sees only the negative result of something, and he feels that if such a thing should occur that things would be disastrous.

Catastrophizing occurs when a person feels that only negative outcomes can occur and if such outcomes occur, their lives will be over. It is an irrational fear.

More About Catastrophizing

Let us give an example of when someone is catastrophizing.

A young man thinks that he will fail the exam, and he feels that if such occurs, he will never graduate from school and will end up as a failure. This is a classic case of someone that is catastrophizing.

Medical experts have given catastrophizing another name, which is “magnifying.” This is because when a person is catastrophizing, they are making the case seem a lot worse than the situation actually is.

When not handled, this could lead to depression. Many people that have left their catastrophizing unchecked tend to suffer from depression.

How to Limit Catastrophizing

We have listed out some techniques that can be used in managing this situation.

Think of positive results.

When you feel bad thoughts coming to mind, try and change your thoughts to a positive outcome, or opt for a negative result that isn’t so bad.

State positive affirmations.

When negative thoughts come to mind, toss them away and replace them with positive affirmations. Do it daily, and you will be amazed at the results. It may help improve your self-esteem. (This can be done by writing in a gratitude journal, or saying the things you’re grateful for out loud, such as “this time I will definitely be happy.”)

Practice self-care.

When someone is stressed and tired, they can easily slip into catastrophic thoughts. It won’t be a bad idea to try practicing self-care. You could try out things like meditation, exercise, as well as journaling. This will leave you feeling happier.

Also know when your thoughts are no longer rational. Normally, catastrophizing begin with a pattern. You may start out feeling that you are hurting. Before you know it, those thoughts will move towards how anxious or worried you are, and things slip downward from there. You should consider knowing when to control your thoughts.

Yell “Stop!”

Sometimes, we can’t help but think about negative outcomes. They must come, but you should have control over them. To stop this, you should yell out in your head, “stop!”

Tell yourself that you are tired of these negative thoughts.

This ensures that what you are thinking will change as time goes on. You should not dwell on negative thoughts, as they could worsen to even suicidal ones, eventually. End it when it presents itself, and this will save you from a lot of issues. Managing negative thoughts may not be easy, but it can be done.

Do you still feel yourself catastrophizing? It may be a good time to research which is best for you when it comes to a therapist vs psychiatrist.

In addition, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 anytime 24/7 for words of comfort if you’re having negative thoughts about hurting yourself or others. 

In case of an emergency, always call 911.