Pessimistic attribution patterns have long been linked to depression. Psychological characteristics such as despair, low resistance to adversity, and persistent fixation on unhappy ideas all contribute to depression (Beck & Alford, 2009). Pessimism is also related to anxiety disorders, particularly social anxiety disorder. People with social anxiety are likely to attribute negative events to their own behavior rather than external factors, which can lead to pessimism about the world and themselves.
Being pessimistic can also be a symptom of depression. For example, if you believe things will never change and there's no hope for your situation, this could be considered depressive thinking. If you adopt these beliefs as truth, then it becomes difficult to see any possibility of improvement.
Finally, depression can cause you to be pessimistic. If you lose interest in life and feel like everything is impossible to change, then it's not surprising that you would come to believe that most things are bad or that nobody cares.
Overall, pessimism is related to many mental illnesses and can be a part of many people's lives. It's important to understand how someone's perception of the world affects them so that you can help them find ways to change their thoughts.
Pessimism has been linked to an increased risk of depression in both the general population and those with physical ailments, according to international research (Armbruster et al., 2015; Anzaldi & Shifren, 2019). In a study of over 1,000 people by Armbruster et al. (2015), those who scored high on a measure of pessimism were 30% more likely to report symptoms of depression than those who scored low on the test. Another study conducted by Anzaldi and Shifren (2019) found that patients who reported feeling pessimistic about their health had higher rates of depression than those who felt optimistic. These studies suggest that pessimists are at greater risk of depression than optimists.
Why might this be the case? Pessimists may experience stressors such as job loss or illness more intensely than optimists, which may lead to mental problems. They may also have more negative thoughts about themselves and their situations which can then cause them to feel depressed.
It is possible to be a pessimistic person without being clinically depressed. Many normal individuals will often assume the worst-case scenario when thinking about their future or the world around them. This type of thinking is natural for many people, but for some it may lead to anxiety or depression if they find themselves unable to change their thoughts or circumstances.
Depressed people had more shame, more indecisiveness, and less capacity to downplay unfavorable experiences than nondepressed people, all of which predict increased vulnerability to cognitive dissonance manipulations. As a result, depressed people may be more susceptible to dissonance effects. The evidence for this conclusion is reviewed here.
In addition to these factors that make people vulnerable to dissonance effects, there are two other reasons why we might expect individuals with depressive symptoms to show greater susceptibility to such effects: (1) Depression is associated with changes in thinking patterns and behaviors that increase an individual's risk for developing further depression symptoms. For example, people who suffer from depression often have pessimistic thoughts about their abilities to succeed in life or to overcome difficulties. This kind of thinking can lead to dissonant beliefs about their fitness for success or survival, which can trigger additional depressive thoughts and feelings. (2) Depression is also associated with changes in behavior that decrease an individual's risk for developing further depression symptoms. People who experience feelings of guilt or inadequacy as a result of negative events may come to believe that they deserve these feelings; if so, this could lead to dissonant beliefs about their ability to recover from the negative events that caused them pain in the first place.
As discussed by Miller and Cohen, people are prone to seek out information that confirms existing attitudes or opinions and to avoid or disregard information that contradicts these views.
In other words, the hopelessness hypothesis predicts that the interplay of negative cognitive processes with bad life experiences leads to a sense of hopelessness. This pessimism, in turn, was theorized to be sufficient to cause depression on its own.
Hope is also important for mental health. Research shows that low levels of hope are associated with an increased risk of developing anxiety disorders and depressive symptoms. Furthermore, people who have recovered from depression often report that learning to believe in something else beyond just feeling better helped them move forward with their lives.
The hopelessness theory has many implications for treatment. Most importantly, it suggests that changing someone's perception of the world around them - by teaching them alternative ways of thinking about their problems or challenges - won't necessarily lead to depression relief. Rather, these changes must be paired with actual behavioral changes if they are to have any effect at all.
For example, if a person believes that no one can help them out of their current situation, then talking with them about finding solutions may not be enough to change their mind. However, if they think that anything is possible, then counseling them and showing them how to go about solving problems will have more impact.
Over 30 years of study reveals that persons suffering from depression have more negative thoughts than those who are joyful. Furthermore, more negative ideas make individuals sadder. Thinking too much is also a symptom of depression.
Thinking too much is called "rumination". It means focusing on your problems and worries over time without doing anything to solve them. Ruminating can make you feel worse by making you think about what you think about. This cycle can cause you to feel depressed.
If you're feeling down about yourself or your life, stop yourself from thinking by using techniques such as counting down from 10 or imagining the worst possible outcome of an event happening just before it does.
Consider seeing a psychologist. They can help you figure out why you're depressed and give you tools to improve your mood.