Catching Our Catastrophizing

In mental health by Tree House Recovery

Most people who are familiar with addiction are aware that individuals who suffer from the disease, very often, have histories of traumatic experiences. We can think of trauma as an event that took place which literally shattered the foundations upon which we understand the world. As a result of the traumatic catastrophe, our brains go into overdrive in order to try and predict future catastrophes so that we might be more prepared for the experience. As is the case with many psychological functions, what the brain does to try and protect us actually works to harm us over the long run. When we are unable to work through our traumas, our brains stay on high alert at all times and this can create a perpetual state of stress and anxiety.

Beyond exacerbating our levels of anxiety, being in a state in which we are constantly expecting a catastrophe to take place robs us of our ability to experience and enjoy life in the present moment. We are left to marinate in an existence that is characterized by fear and trepidation. Catastrophizing can also negatively affect our ability to regulate emotions effectively which can lead to serious disorders of mood and anxiety. When we remain in this hypervigilant state, we become more prone to responding to situations and people impulsively and harshly. While the tendency to catastrophize is natural, there are ways in which we can work to limit the severity of its signals to our brain in order to calm our mood and leave us feeling grounded. The primary and most effective way to combat our proclivity to catastrophize is to engage in psychotherapy so that the cause of our worry can be placed in a context where we can deal with it realistically and practically. Another strategy is to test the reality of our catastrophic assumptions which can be done by evaluating the potential reality of our fears. For instance, if we fail a test and we begin to have thoughts about how we are most definitely stupid, how our parents will be disappointed, and that this is an obvious sign that we are incapable, we can evaluate those assumptions by asking ourselves what the real impact of that situation should be. Chances are, if we apply patience and understanding we will be able to discover that we might’ve just needed to commit more study time to the material. The first step to any kind of personal improvement comes after we acknowledge that we need help.



Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help- our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474