Understand The Link Between Negative Self-Talk And Depression

Negative self-talk is something we all do, but for some people, it can become a destructive force. For people struggling with depression, negative self-talk can be a crippling force that reinforces negative thinking and prevents them from seeking help.

In this article, we’ll explore the link between negative self-talk and depression, and offer some tips on how to break the cycle. If you’re struggling with negative self-talk, know that you’re not alone. But also know that there is hope, and help is available.

With the right support, you can overcome negative self-talk and start living a happier, healthier life.

Understanding Negative Self-Talk

We’ve all been there- that little voice in our head that tells us we’re not good enough, that we can’t do it, that we’re going to fail. That voice is negative self-talk, and it can be a real downer. Negative self-talk is defined as any thoughts or beliefs that you have about yourself that are negative or hurtful.

These thoughts can be about your appearance, your abilities, your personal worth, or anything else. Negative self-talk can really take a toll on your mental and emotional health, leading to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

Here are some examples of negative self-talk:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I can’t do this.
  • This is too hard.
  • I’ll never be able to figure this out.
  • Nobody likes me.
  • Everybody is better than me.

The Link Between Negative Self-Talk And Depression 

It’s no secret that negative self-talk can be harmful to our mental health. But what is the link between negative self-talk and depression? Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between the two.

People who are depressed are more likely to engage in negative self-talk, and negative self-talk can increase the severity of depressive symptoms. Negative self-talk can take many different forms. For example, you might tell yourself that you’re not good enough, that you’ll never achieve your goals, or that you’re worthless.

This kind of thinking can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair, worthlessness, and inadequacy which can worsen depression. It can also lead to negative behaviors such as social withdrawal, and self-isolation.

Stop Negative Self-Talk When It Stems From Depression

Most of us have experienced negative self-talk at one point or another. This usually happens when we’re feeling down about ourselves or anxious about something. For some people, negative self-talk can become a habit, particularly if they’re dealing with depression.

There are a few reasons why negative self-talk can be particularly harmful to people with depression.

First of all, it can perpetuate the negative feelings that come with depression. When you’re already feeling down, hearing negative things about yourself can make you feel even worse. It can reinforce negative beliefs about oneself, making them feel more real and difficult to challenge.

Secondly, negative self-talk can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Negative self-talk can lead to negative emotions like sadness, anxiety, and low self-esteem. If you keep telling yourself that you’re not good enough or that you’re going to fail, you may start to believe it.

As a result, you may not even bother trying to improve your situation because you think it’s hopeless. Negative self-talk can increase stress levels, which can worsen the symptoms of depression, and it can interfere with problem-solving and negative decision-making.

The cycle of negative-self talk and depression can be hard

Putting A Stop To The Cycle of Negative Self-Talk And Depression

Negative self-talk and depression can be cyclical and difficult-to-break patterns. If you’re stuck in a cycle of negative thinking, it can be tough to break out of it. But it’s important to remember that you are in control of your thoughts, and you can choose to focus on positive things instead.

Here are a few tips for putting a stop to negative self-talk:

1. Identify Your “Negative Thought Traps” 

One of the first steps to tackling negative self-talk and depression is to identify your negative thought traps. These are the negative thoughts and beliefs that keep you stuck in a cycle of negative self-talk. Recognizing these thought traps is an important step in breaking free from them.

Some common negative thought traps include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking: This is when you see things in black and white, with no middle ground. For example, you might tell yourself that you’re a failure if you don’t achieve perfection.
  • Overgeneralization: This is when you take one negative event and assume that it will always be that way. For example, you might tell yourself that you’ll never be successful after failing one test.
  • Jumping to conclusions: This is when you make assumptions without any evidence to back them up. For example, you might tell yourself that everyone is laughing at you even though there’s no evidence to support that.
  • Magnification: This is when you blow things out of proportion. For example, you might tell yourself that one small mistake means you’re a complete failure.
  • Catastrophizing: This is when you assume the worst will happen. For example, you might tell yourself that if you don’t get an A on your test, you’ll flunk out of school and end up homeless.

2. Challenge Your Inner Critic 

Negative self-talk can be a major contributor to depression. When we’re constantly putting ourselves down, it’s tough to see the good in life.

But did you know that you can actually challenge your inner critic? It might sound daunting, but it can be a powerful tool for breaking the negative self-talk cycle. Here’s how: 

  • Identify the negative thought or belief that’s fueling your self-criticism. This is the first step in taking control of the situation. 
  • Analyze the evidence. Once you’ve identified the negative thought, take a step back and look at the evidence. Is there any truth to it? Or is it just a negative belief that you’ve been holding onto for too long? 
  • Challenge the negative thought. Now that you’ve looked at the evidence, it’s time to challenge the negative thought head-on. Come up with some positive evidence to counter the negative thought. For example, if you’re thinking “I’m such a failure,” remind yourself of all the times you’ve succeeded in the past. 
  • Repeat as necessary. Breaking negative self-talk patterns takes time and practice. So don’t get discouraged if you find yourself slipping back into old habits every now and then. Just keep practicing, and eventually, you’ll start to see a difference.

By becoming aware of these negative thought traps, you can start to question and challenge them. Once you do, you’ll be on your way to breaking free from the cycle of negative self-talk and depression.

3. Write Down Your Thoughts And Feelings

By writing down your thoughts and feelings, you can help to stop the negative self-talk cycle. This will allow you to see your thoughts and feelings on paper, rather than just in your head. When you write down your thoughts, you’re able to see them from a different perspective.

You can look at them objectively and see that they’re not necessarily true. And when you see that they’re not true, it’s easier to let them go. Additionally, it can help to identify negative thought patterns and work on changing them.

Ultimately, writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a helpful tool in combating negative self-talk and depression.

4. Identify Which Kind Of Cognitive Distortion Your Negative Self-Talk Fall In 

Identifying negative self-talk can help to break the cycle of negative thinking and depression. Negative self-talk is a form of cognitive distortion or a way of thinking that skews our perception of reality. There are 10 common cognitive distortions, including:

  1. All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black-and-white terms and expect perfection from yourself.
  2. Overgeneralization: You use words like “never” and “always” when talking about yourself.
  3. Mental filter: You only see the negative aspects of a situation and filter out the positive.
  4. Discounting the positive: You downplay your accomplishments or positive qualities.
  5. Jumping to conclusions: You make negative assumptions without having all the facts.
  6. Magnification: You blow things out of proportion and make them seem worse than they are. 
  7. Emotional reasoning: You believe that because you feel something, it must be true. 
  8. Should statements: You have rigid rules about how you and others should behave. 
  9. “What if” thinking: You focus on worst-case scenarios and all the things that could go wrong. 
  10. Personalization: You blame yourself for things that are out of your control or sense that others are deliberately trying to hurt you. 
Keep reminding yourself of the positive things

By identifying which type(s) of the cognitive distortion your negative self-talk falls into, you can start to challenge and reframe your thoughts. For example, if you tend to overgeneralize, you can question why you’re making such a sweeping statement. Or if you’re discounting the positive, you can remind yourself of all the good things in your life.

5. Practice positive self-talk. 

One way to stop the cycle of negative self-talk and depression is to practice positive self-talk. Positive self-talk is defined as positive thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself.

When you practice positive self-talk, you’ll start to feel better about yourself. This will help you break out of the cycle of negative self-talk and depression.

Here are some tips for practicing positive self-talk:

  • Start each day with a positive affirmation. For example, “I am worthy of love and respect”, “I am capable,” “I will succeed,” or “I am valuable”, 
  • Make a list of your positive qualities. refer to this list when you’re feeling down about yourself.
  • Surround yourself with people who support and love you. These people will help you see the good in yourself when you’re struggling to see it yourself.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others. Everyone is on their own unique journey in life.
  • Be kind to yourself. cut yourself some slack if you make a mistake. We all make mistakes! remind yourself that you’re only human.
  • Focus on your progress, not your perfection. No one is perfect! Instead of striving for perfection, focus on making progress toward your goals. Even small steps forward progress!
  • Celebrate your wins, big or small! take time to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how big or small they may be. Congratulating yourself will help increase your self-esteem and confidence. 

By practicing positive self-talk, you can break out of the cycle of negative self-talk and depression. Give it a try today!

6. Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise can help break the cycle of negative self-talk and depression. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. This can help to counter negative thoughts and improve our overall mood.

Additionally, exercise provides us with a sense of accomplishment and boosts our self-esteem. When we feel good about ourselves, we’re less likely to dwell on negative thoughts.

Finally, regular exercise can help to reduce stress levels, which can also contribute to negative self-talk and depression. By breaking the cycle of negative thinking, we can start to feel better and lead happier lives.

7. Eat Healthy Foods

It’s no secret that what we eat can have a big impact on our physical health. But did you know that what we eat can also impact our mental health? There’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that eating healthy foods can help to stop the negative self-talk and depression cycle.

For example, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, can help to reduce depression symptoms. Similarly, Vitamin D, which is found in foods like eggs and fortified milk, has been linked with lower rates of depression.

So if you’re feeling down, try reaching for some healthy food options instead of comfort foods. Who knows, you might just find that it makes a world of difference.

8. Get Enough Sleep

We all know that getting enough sleep is important for our overall health, but did you know that it can also help to stop the negative self-talk that can lead to depression? When we’re tired, we’re more likely to believe the negative thoughts that run through our heads, and those negative thoughts can quickly spiral into a full-blown case of depression.

However, when we’re well-rested, we’re better able to think clearly and see things in a more positive light. If you’re struggling with negative self-talk and depression, make sure to get plenty of rest.

It could be the key to breaking the cycle.

9. Take Breaks From Electronics Screens

We’ve all been there staring at a screen for hours on end, whether it’s our phone, laptop, or TV. And afterward, we feel drained, anxious, or even depressed.

But why does this happen? According to experts, it’s because looking at screens emits blue light that can disrupt our natural sleep cycle and increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This can lead to negative self-talk and a negative feedback loop of depression.

Thankfully, there are ways to break this cycle.

Taking breaks from electronic screens can help reduce stress levels and give our brains a chance to relax. Going outside for a walk, reading a book, or talking to friends and family are all great ways to take a break from electronic screens. Next time you’re feeling down after looking at a screen, try one of these activities instead-you’ll be glad you did!

10. Connect With Your Inner Core

Self-awareness and connecting with your core can help stop the negative self-talk cycle and depression. When you are aware of your thoughts, you can catch yourself when you start to dwell on negative thoughts and turn them around.

Connect with your core self

If you are in touch with your core values and what is important to you, you will be less likely to let negative thoughts take over. You will also be less likely to get caught up in a cycle of negative thinking if you have people in your life who support you and make you feel good about yourself.

So, self-awareness and connection are key to stopping the negative self-talk cycle and depression.

11. Practice Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a form of mindfulness that has been shown to be helpful in treating negative self-talk and depression. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment.

Meditation is a way of practicing mindfulness. In mindfulness meditation, you focus your attention on your breath or on a particular word or phrase, and you let thoughts and feelings come and go without judging them. 

The goal of mindfulness meditation is not to get rid of all thoughts or feelings, but rather to become more aware of them and to let them go more easily. This can help break the cycle of negative self-talk and depression.

When you are aware of negative thoughts and feelings, you can see them for what they are: just thoughts and feelings that come and go. They are not necessarily true, and they don’t have to control you. 

If you’re interested in trying mindfulness meditation, there are many resources available online or through apps. Start with a short practice (5-10 minutes) and gradually increase the length of time as you become more comfortable with it.

12. Talk About Your Feelings With Someone Else

When you’re feeling down, it can be tough to stop the negative self-talk from taking over. You might start thinking things like “I’m not good enough” or “No one likes me.” These negative thoughts can quickly spiral into depression.

Thankfully, talking about your feelings with someone else can help break the cycle of negative self-talk and depression. When you open up to someone, you’re acknowledging that you’re struggling. This can help to alleviate some of the shame and negative feelings you’re experiencing.

Additionally, talking about your experiences can help you to gain new perspectives and find solutions to your problems. So next time you’re feeling down, reach out to a friend or family member and start talking about your feelings. It could make all the difference.


Negative self-talk can be a negative force in our lives, affecting our moods and how we see ourselves. It can even lead to depression. Thankfully, there are things we can do to break the cycle of negative self-talk.

By recognizing negative thoughts as they come up, and replacing them with positive ones, we can start to change the way we think about ourselves. With time and practice, negative self-talk can become a thing of the past, and we can learn to see ourselves in a more positive light. 


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Tarlow, E. M., & Haaga, D. A. (1996). Negative Self-Concept: Specificity to Depressive Symptoms and Relation to Positive and Negative Affectivity. Journal of Research in Personality, 30(1), 120–127. https://doi.org/10.1006/jrpe.1996.0008

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