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Question
Posted by: Eeyore | 2012/08/14

How to break free from negative thinking

Hi Doc

I always used to be a confident and positive person. The last few years I have started with more negative thinking - around the time my husband &  I started trying for a baby. Nearly 5 years later no success and it seems everyone else I know is successfully conceiving. I have gotten to the point where I still have a tiny glimmer of hope but most of the time I can''t even picture myself being pregnant.
Now I have been having panic/anxiety attacks and because I have been drowsy and very nauseous on some workdays I automatically start thinking the evening before work that I am going to feel ill and panicky and then the anxiety starts again. I have been going to a support group for people with hang-ups and dependency issues etc and going to church.
I am so tired of feeling like I am drained and want to give up and become a recluse. I wish I could sit at home and do my own thing. I also wish I could get excited about life again and change my thought patterns back to positive ones.
Do you have any advice?
Thanks

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Hi Eeyore,
One topic you may find useful to read up about online, is the concept of Learned Helplessness, which Martin Seligman wrote about. He pointed out that in all species he looked at, after experiencing situations in which we were for whatever reason powerless to change a nasty situation, creatures tend to Give Up, and then even in situations where there's an obvious way to escape or improve the situation, we fail to even seriously try to do so.
And habitual negative thinking may be one way this is seen. And CBT is the best established form of counselling / psychotherapy for learning to change unhelpful habits of negative thought and deed.
When one is having extreme difficulty in achieving one thing one has focussed on as highly important to you ( especially when this is high-lighted by others apparently having no problem in doing so )one may come not only to feel devastated by this specific issue, but discouraged from devoting oneself to alternative foci for gratification which one could indeed achieve.
Elements of anxiety and depression are common in such situations. And even aspects of a false pregnancy, when one experiences symptoms and even signs suggesting pregnancy, when one is not pregnant ( even Queen Anne of England suffered this ).
There's also ( not uncommon ) a phobic aspect to the anxiety you describe, where, having experienced unpleasant symptoms in particular situations, one comes to feel anxious before such situations arise, anticipating that the symptoms even might arise, making a potential vicious cycle of symp[toms, expectations, and anxiety.
Again,Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy is the current best available method by which a psychologist can help you unlearn these non-functional and uncomfortable habits, and regain confidence and positivity.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

3
Our users say:
Posted by: Eeyore | 2012/08/14

Thanks Doc and thanks Liza
Liza, are you in joburg and can you recommend a qualified therapist who can assist with CBT?

Reply to Eeyore
Posted by: Liza | 2012/08/14

The best way to change negative thinking habits is through CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy). It takes a while and lots of practice of the techniques, but it''s a lasting solution with no side-effects. I''ve used it to successfully reduce my anxiety levels and number of panic attacks. I still get somewhat anxious, but I haven''t had a panic attack in a very long time (and I don''t use tranquillizers anymore).

Good Luck
Liza

Reply to Liza
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/08/14

Hi Eeyore,
One topic you may find useful to read up about online, is the concept of Learned Helplessness, which Martin Seligman wrote about. He pointed out that in all species he looked at, after experiencing situations in which we were for whatever reason powerless to change a nasty situation, creatures tend to Give Up, and then even in situations where there's an obvious way to escape or improve the situation, we fail to even seriously try to do so.
And habitual negative thinking may be one way this is seen. And CBT is the best established form of counselling / psychotherapy for learning to change unhelpful habits of negative thought and deed.
When one is having extreme difficulty in achieving one thing one has focussed on as highly important to you ( especially when this is high-lighted by others apparently having no problem in doing so )one may come not only to feel devastated by this specific issue, but discouraged from devoting oneself to alternative foci for gratification which one could indeed achieve.
Elements of anxiety and depression are common in such situations. And even aspects of a false pregnancy, when one experiences symptoms and even signs suggesting pregnancy, when one is not pregnant ( even Queen Anne of England suffered this ).
There's also ( not uncommon ) a phobic aspect to the anxiety you describe, where, having experienced unpleasant symptoms in particular situations, one comes to feel anxious before such situations arise, anticipating that the symptoms even might arise, making a potential vicious cycle of symp[toms, expectations, and anxiety.
Again,Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy is the current best available method by which a psychologist can help you unlearn these non-functional and uncomfortable habits, and regain confidence and positivity.

Reply to cybershrink

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