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Cognitive distortion, also known as maladaptive thoughts, errors in thinking or irrational thoughts, are explained by Harvard Medical School as “internal mental filters or biases that increase our misery, fuel our anxiety, and make us feel bad about ourselves.” These negative thoughts adversely influence our mood, and ultimately lead to unhealthy behaviors. Verywell Mind provides examples of common cognitive distortions that can fuel catastrophic thinking patterns and contribute to negative emotions, some of which include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking: also known as black-and-white thinking or polarized thinking, is a type of thinking that involves viewing things in absolute terms with only two possible outcomes to a situation.
  • Catastrophizing: entails expecting the worse to happen without considering alternative outcomes that are more likely to occur.
  • Labeling: an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking and includes defining yourself or others in a rigid way that does not allow for more favorable evaluations.
  • Personalization: entails evaluating other people’s behavior as being the result of something you did, and/ or holding yourself personally accountable for an event that is not entirely under your control.
  • Discounting the positive: involves looking past, ignoring and/ or rejecting positive experiences or viewing positive experiences or outcomes as simply being due to chance.
  • Magnification: exaggerating the importance of your problems and shortcomings or minimizing the importance of your desirable qualities.

Considerable emphasis is placed on the role cognitive distortions play in the etiology and maintenance of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by “intrusive thoughts, nightmares and flashbacks of past traumatic events, avoidance of reminders of trauma, hypervigilance, and sleep disturbance, all of which lead to considerable social, occupational, and interpersonal dysfunction.” According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD is “triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it.” PTSD is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a diagnosable mental health disorder and is listed under the new category called Trauma– and Stressor- Related Disorders. A publication in Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience asserts that “the hallmark symptoms of PTSD involve alterations to cognitive processes such as memory, attention, planning, and problem solving, underscoring the detrimental impact that negative emotionality has on cognitive functioning.” Empirical evidence concludes that persistent, trauma-related intrusive thoughts are common in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies have shown that cognitive distortions in the early aftermath of traumatic events can predict future PTSD severity. Research also suggests that higher levels of negative affect may increase the risk of PTSD.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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