Catastrophic Thinking

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A life with constant worry, stress, fear, and frustration is common with many anxiety sufferers. Catastrophic thinking, however, has a large …

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A life with constant worry, stress, fear, and frustration is common with many anxiety sufferers. Catastrophic thinking, however, has a large impact on those with social anxiety…but what is it exactly?

Catastrophic Thinking: An event “where a person imagines scenarios in his or her head that are way more intense or graphic than what can really be expected.”

Imagine yourself waiting at a restaurant waiting to meet with an aunt for lunch. Fifteen minutes pass and she still has not arrived. Unfortunately, you forgot your cellphone at home and have no way of reaching her. Most people would continue to wait at the restaurant with little or no worries, but anxiety sufferers with catastrophic thinking react quite differently. The individual would most likely be frantic, frightened, and worried with thoughts of kidnapping, critical injury, or even death.

For individuals that engage in catastrophic thinking, fear outweighs the consequences. The best way to explain the statement can be illustrated through the example of an anxious, overprotective mother who controls every aspect of her children’s lives in fear. Her behavior can ultimately result in her children becoming indecisive, resentful, and/or irresponsible as adults.

One method of managing the disabling thought process is constantly reminding oneself of reality and the unlikeliness of the catastrophe actually occurring. Practicing factually based thinking with breathing exercises can help to calm the nerves and prevent an anxiety attack from developing. It is also beneficial to ask for support from trusted friends and family who would have a much more realistic interpretation of the particular situation.

The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 877-845-5235 for more information.

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