If you were able to listen in on the thoughts that reverberate through a depressed person’s head, you might hear “I’m a failure,” “My future looks bleak,” “Things just keep on getting worse,” or “I regret so many things in my life.”
On the other hand, the thoughts of an anxious person might sound like “I’m going to make a fool out of myself when I give that speech,” “I never know what to say at parties,” “The freeway scares me to death,” “I know that the odds of a plane crash are small, but flying scares me,” or “I’m going have a nervous breakdown if my editor doesn’t like what I write.”
Thoughts influence the way you feel. The very darkest thoughts usually lead to depression, whereas anxiety usually stems from thoughts about being judged or hurt. And, of course, people often have both types of thoughts.
Do your thoughts dwell on the dark, dismal, or the scary aspects of life? Take the quiz in Worksheet to determine if your thoughts reflect a problem with anxiety or depression. Put a check mark next to an item if you feel the statement applies to you.
The Negative Thinking Quiz
❏ 1. Things are getting worse and worse for me.
❏ 2. I worry all the time.
❏ 3. I think I’m worthless.
❏ 4. I never know what to say.
❏ 5. No one would miss me if I were dead.
❏ 6. I’m afraid that I’ll get sick.
❏ 7. I think I’m a failure.
❏ 8. My thoughts race, and I obsess about things.
❏ 9. I don’t look forward to much of anything.
❏ 10. I get really nervous around people I don’t know.
❏ 11. The world would be better off without me.
❏ 12. Thoughts about past trauma keep rolling through my mind.
❏ 13. I find it impossible to make decisions.
❏ 14. I can’t stand it when I’m the center of attention.
❏ 15. My life is full of regrets.
❏ 16. I can’t stand making mistakes.
❏ 17. I don’t see things getting any better in the future.
❏ 18. I worry about my health all the time.
❏ 19. I’m deeply ashamed of myself.
❏ 20. I over-prepare for everything.
Although these thoughts can occur to someone who’s either depressed or anxious (or both), the odd-numbered items are most indicative of depression, and the even-numbered items reflect anxious thinking. There’s no pass or fail mark on this quiz. However, the more items you endorse, the more you have cause for concern; specifically, if you check more than eight or ten items, you should think seriously about addressing your condition. At the same time, if you very strongly believe in any of these items, you just may have too much anxiety or depression.
If you have any thoughts of suicide or utter hopelessness, you should consult your primary care physician or a mental health professional immediately.
(extracted from) Anxiety & Depression Workbook for Dummies by Charles H. Elliott, PhD and Laura L. Smith, PhD., Wiley Publishing, Inc.