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Question
Posted by: pixie | 2013-02-16

Catastrophising/negative thinking

HI CS

I appreciate the quick way you always respond to people''s questions - you''re the best expert by far!

Over the last couple of years I have " learned"  negative thinking. I used to be quite positive, never believed I had any health problems and shrugged off the common cold with OTC medications which worked well and I got over it.

Now since being married and being close with my mother-in-law, slowly but surely I seemed to have learned the practice of negative thinking, unnecessary worrying and catastrophising. My husband and his mother will go to the doctor for almost anything : scratchy throat, sniffles etc. My mother in law is a born worrier - worries about everything : finances, health, my parents future, our future, our finances, my sister-in-law - whatever it is, she will worry about it. I love her dearly like my own mother but it is hard to be faced with constant negativity. Our family doctor always gives the strongest (and usually most expensive) medicine - yes, it generally works well but I can''t believe you need to take cortizone for a common cold! Just some sinumax and a good decongesent!
My husband also goes over the top in a situation - if he has a bad day at work, he thinks hes going to lose his job or if he bumps himself " he''s cut himself open"  (its hardly a scratch)... every little situation they think the worst.
I have had some health issues - anxiety issues leading to food/eating issues and I went for an evaluation where the clinic wanted me to book in for their general in patient programme. My husband automatically feels if I take the sick leave I will not have a job to go back to (I did have a fair amount of sick leave last year)

My issue is that I never used to be like this - yes, I would get anxious in appropriate situations and would get over it. Now sometimes I don''t even know why I feel panicky. I get anxiety hunger so I have to constantly check myself and make sure that I am only eating due to physical hunger and not for " comfort" . I want to get off my anxiety meds and return to normal life and happiness. I am going to start CBT next week and will chat to my councellor about where I think the negative thinking started. I would like to hear your take on this if you think its possible for someone to be influenced by the thought patterns of those they are constantly around.

Thanks CS> 

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Our expert says:
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Thanks. THis is why I promote CBT, as it is not only backed by good research, but specifically focusses pn negative thinking, unhelpful habits of thought and deed, and on changing them fruitfully.
And these are not merely bad habits in the story you tell about your mother-in-law, as the over-medication can be very dangerous. Any doctor who gives cortisone for a common cold ( are you really sure about this ? ) is practising bad and dangerously bad medicine. It is of no benefit in the cold and could make the illness worse.
Curious that your husband who sounds like he rather enjoys and dramatizes his own trivial illnesses and i njuries, takes such a gloomy view of you seeing proper medical care for yourself.
And yes, such bad habits of thought can be learned and "picked up " from others.

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