Why stop negative thoughts in their tracks

If negative thinking becomes a chronic thinking pattern, you're heading towards full-blown clinical depression

Brooding man gazing at water
Don’t make negative thinking a habit, it leads to clinical depression

We all have negative thoughts from time to time, some people more than others. However, if you don’t learn to stop these thoughts and this becomes a chronic thinking pattern, you’re heading towards full-blown clinical depression, recent research from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University has found.

Jaclene Zauszniewski, the Kate Hanna Harvey Professor in Community Health Nursing and associate dean for doctoral education at the school, has developed a brief 8-item survey to help identify depressive thinking patterns that may lead to serious depression if not identified and addressed early.

Zauszniewski’s Depression Cognition Scale [DCS] asks individuals to respond to questions about helplessness, hopelessness, purposelessness, worthlessness, powerlessness, loneliness, emptiness and meaninglessness using a scale that ranges from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”

The DCS has been used effectively to screen for more serious depressive symptoms in persons in the U.S. and around the world, but the researchers wanted to take it further and determine the point at which negative thinking establishes a pattern for the onset of clinical depression—even without other emotional expressions or body symptoms associated with depression.

For this study, the researchers compared DCS scores to the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), which is recognized as a “gold standard” measure for identifying clinically significant depressive symptoms. Their goal was to determine a cut score on the DCS that would represent the point at which individuals may benefit from learning ways to change negative thinking in order to prevent serious depression.

They found that a score of 7 on the DCS would be that point at which individuals should begin initiating strategies to change negative thoughts into positive ones. The findings also showed that at this cut score, the DCS accurately differentiated between persons with and without clinical depressive symptoms as determined by the CES-D.

But we think it’s always better to nip a problem in the bud, if you catch yourself always looking at things in a negative manner, change the habit as soon as you can. If you can’t do it on your own, seek professional help.

Case Western Reserve University


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