The first component of the cognitive triad (Figure 1) is the tendency of the depressed individual to interpret ongoing experiences in a negative way. Interactions with the environment are often misinterpreted as representing some form of defeat or deprivation. Automatic reactions to problems or difficulties are likely to be thoughts such as "I'm beaten," "I'll never be able to do this," or "I'm blocked no matter what I do." Any problem seems insoluble, and any delay in reaching a goal seems indefinite. For example, a depressed woman who had some difficulty finding a pencil in her purse immediately had the thought, "I'll never be able to find it." She experienced a strong sense of frustration even though she was able to find it in a few seconds.
Many patients with depression are particularly prone to react to achievement-oriented situations with a sense of failure or to make negative attributions whenever they are in a competitive situation. One patient had the highest standing in class, but whenever the teacher called on another student to answer a question, the patient thought, "He doesn't really think I'm smart or he would have called on me." If the professor complimented other students, the patient would have the thought that the professor had a low opinion of him.
Making comparisons with other people is especially likely to activate feelings of dissatisfaction and deprivation. Many depressed patients have thoughts such as "I don't have anything" when a friend acquires something new. In addition to feeling deprived, the depressed patient is prone to interpret comments from others as devaluing and is likely to read insults, ridicule, or disparagement into what other people say. In summary, the world of the depressed individual is filled with themes of defeat, deprivation, and devaluation.
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Learning About How To Defeat Depression Can Have Amazing Benefits For Your Life And Success! Discover ways to cope with depression and melancholic tendencies! Depression and anxiety particularly have become so prevalent that it’s exceedingly common for individuals to be taking medication for one or even both of these mood disorders.