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Thinking and Depression: Changing Negative Thought Patterns

Thinking and Depression: Changing Negative Thought Patterns

By Wesley Buch, Ph.D., R. Psych.

Pain and the problems associated with pain – sleep disturbance, limitations, losses, conflict, and stressful circumstances – can all negatively affect how you think about yourself, others, and your world. Negative thinking can contribute to depressive feelings.

Life Events (injury/pain) —> Thoughts, Interpretations —> Feelings

If life events like an injury and other pain-related circumstances are distorted and misinterpreted in a negative way, this can lead to a depressed mood. A depressed mood is feelings of sadness or emptiness that linger all the time throughout your days for at least two weeks.

For example:


You overdo an activity and experience a pain flare-up.

  • “I must have re-injured myself. Maybe this pain is from a whole new injury. It seems that whenever I get active, I end up harming myself all over again” (Hurt vs. Harm Interpretations of Pain).
  • “I’m going to give up all my activities so that I don’t harm myself anymore” (All or Nothing Thinking).
  • “I’m never going to get better. I could end up in a wheelchair” (Catastrophizing).

Discouraged, down, hopeless; this depressed mood can then lead to more depressive thinking, which continues the vicious cycle between pain and mood.

Some thinking tends to increase pain. For example, negative thoughts, images, and feelings can actually make pain feel worse.


“I can’t take this headache any longer!”


“A vice crushing my head.”



Changing Negative Thought Patterns

Here are some ideas about how to change the negative thinking patterns that lead to depression. There are other approaches to altering negative thought patterns, but these ideas will get you started:

  • Train yourself to recognize your negative thought patterns and write them down (a cognitive therapist can help you with this).
  • Learn how these thoughts are distorted.
  • Practice ‘talking back’ to your negative thoughts – challenge them and ‘gather evidence’ against them.
  • Replace them with positive coping thoughts and images:

“I’ll use a strategy I’ve learned, e.g. rapid self-calming with breath work, to deal with this. I’ll try to keep the pain at a manageable level. I’ve withstood worse than this.”


A peaceful scene; a place you love to be; an imaginary adventure, or foreign travel.


Calmness, self-nurturance, satisfaction with your efforts to cope.

Here are some questions that will help you to effectively challenge any negative thought patterns:
  1. What is the evidence for or against this idea? Where is the logic? Are my judgments based on feelings and past experiences rather than the facts of this situation?
  2. Am I oversimplifying a cause-and-effect relationship?
  3. Am I confusing a habit with a fact?
  4. Am I confusing my version of the facts with the facts as they are?
  5. Am I thinking in all-or-nothing terms?
  6. Am I using words or phrases that are extreme or exaggerated? (e.g. can’t, must, every time, should, need, never, forever, always)
  7. Am I taking selected examples out of context?
  8. Am I thinking in terms of certainties instead of probabilities? Am I confusing a low probability with a high probability?
  9. Am I focusing on irrelevant factors?

If You Feel Depressed

Tell someone you trust.

Join Live Plan Be’s supportive forum to benefit from the wisdom of others who have chronic pain and depression – and share some of the helpful things you have learned. Or find a support group near you. Pain and depression both tend to ‘disappear’ you and disconnect you from others, so do the opposite in small steps.

Book a counselling session

Book a ‘counseling session’ appointment (usually 10-15 minutes) with your physician if your emotional life is taking a turn for the worse. You will learn about medications that lessen depression but also pain and sleep disturbance at the same time. Ask about side effects. Seek specific medication advice about greater nighttime pain control in order to obtain a deeper sleep. Medication and self-management activities can also help each other. You can also book a few counseling sessions at your local mental health centre.

Learn self-management strategies

Learn about pain self-management strategies from Live Plan Be’s educational material. Learning to ‘put a muffler on your pain’ will benefit your mood. For example, learn about pain distancing, compassionate self-talk when in pain, gentle movement routines despite pain, pacing to prevent pain flare-ups, hurt vs. harm pain interpretations, and rapid self-calming strategies during pain flare-ups.

Get better quality sleep

Learn about how to get a better night’s sleep. Review the Live Plan Be sleep module for tips and resources. Ask your physician about how to get a better night’s rest. Getting better sleep tends to improve mood and stamina for self-management activities.

Make a plan

Use Live Plan Be’s action planning tools to make some goals about daily activities that increase your interest, enjoyment, or sense of accomplishment but without repeated pain flare-ups. You can also target activities that you miss or avoid now. Make these activity goals small and manageable. For example, go for a short walk, especially with a friend. Go to your local aquatic centre to enjoy the weightlessness of moving and floating in the water, then go to the hot tub and let go of all bodily tension. These are mood-boosting activities. Incorporate these activities into your daily routines. Show these goals to your physician at your next visit. Discuss them with a friend and make some goals for social activities – an especially powerful mood booster.

Focus on positive thought patterns

Review the information on Changing Negative Thought Patterns above. Thinking patterns affect mood for better or worse, and you can learn how to manage these more effectively.

Go for a massage

Go for a few gentle massage sessions from a Registered Massage Therapist in your area. People with chronic pain and depression often feel alienated from their own bodies. They become ‘the untouchables.’ Massage not only provides professional touch but the release of bodily tension that often accompanies depression.

Take advantage of available resources

In British Columbia, try the free Bounce Back program for depression online. This program will connect you with a real person who will walk you through a cognitive-behavioural self-management approach to depression using a DVD.

This article and other helpful educational links, stories, articles and research van be found on the below website



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New Support Group Meeting – Lockyer Valley

Lockyer Valley Inaugural Support Group Meeting

We are delighted to announce that we are launching a new online Support Group Meeting in the Lockyer Valley area.  Our new Support Group Leader is Kim O’Donnell – you can read her story here.

Kim has a background in counselling, helps run her family business and deals with the day-to-day challenges of living with and managing Trigeminal Neuralgia.  Kim has worked through the Training Modules created by our Association to support our volunteers who are providing assistance, empathy, advocacy and education within the safety of a Support Group Meeting.

The changes imposed on us all through the two lockdown covid years, has taught us we do not necessarily need to be face to face in the physical world, to support sufferers.  We are utilising technology to enable our sufferers in Regional Areas to be able to connect and feel safe in our online space using the zoom platform and to feel part of our growing community.

The first meeting will be held on October 11th at 10.30am, a few days after our International Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day on October 7th when we are lighting up cities around Australia in Teal.  In Brisbane the Victoria Bridge will be lit up on the eve of our day on Oct 6th and on the 7th the Gateway Bridges will look magnificent in Teal.  We had also put in a request to the City of Toowoomba but have not yet received a response.

If you are a Trigeminal Neuralgia Sufferer and live in the Lockyer Valley area or are in a region that as yet is not covered by our current support group network, please contact Kim, join her for her first meeting, allow her to help you in your journey.  We know that for many, this is the first step, and you don’t have to be a member to attend.

See you all there – remember

“you are not alone”






Posted on Leave a comment Chronic Pain Course

The information below has been taken from the  Mindspot website and we urge all sufferers to consider using these great resources to help manage their chronic pain

Free, online, personalised Chronic Pain health care with MindSpot

We support Australian adults experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and chronic pain. All of our services are free, confidential, and online, and provide optional access to qualified therapists.

Our online assessment gives you instant feedback about your symptoms on your personal dashboard. You can then access tailored reports, schedule a call with one of our therapists, and enrol into treatment.
Our treatment courses are effective and backed by clinical trials from the eCentreClinic – a leading specialist research clinic at Macquarie University. Our courses help people learn about their symptoms, and learn proven skills to manage their emotional wellbeing and improve their quality of life. On average, people experience a 50% reduction in symptoms
 Resource Library
Our library gives you access to our free, downloadable resources, guides and information to help you stay well. Our resources cover topics such as stress, anxiety, depression, dealing with uncertainty, and much more.


The Chronic Pain Course is a clinically-proven treatment to support adults in managing their chronic pain.

Read more about our Chronic Pain course below,

The Pain Course consists of five lessons over an eight-week period. It provides the information and practical skills you would normally receive from a mental health professional if you attended a specialist pain management clinic. You can choose to receive weekly therapist support during the course, or you can choose to contact us when you need to.

The lessons provide essential information and teach practical self-management skills to help you do the following:

  • Understand chronic pain and how it differs from acute pain
  • Recognise the cycle of symptoms involved in pain, anxiety and depression
  • Break the cycle of symptoms
  • Recognise and challenge unhelpful thoughts and beliefs
  • Recognise and manage physical symptoms of pain, anxiety and depression
  • Manage levels of day-to-day physical activity safely and confidently, despite pain
  • Continue to manage your pain and emotional wellbeing once the course has finished

In addition to the lessons, the course includes DIY Guides to help you better understand and practise skills taught in the lessons. There are also lots of additional resources teaching other important and practical skills, as well as stories from other people with chronic pain who have previously participated in the course.

Does it work

  • Approximately 1400 people have enrolled in the Pain Course at MindSpot.
  • The Pain Course was trialled at the eCentreClinic in clinical trials with more than 1,500 Australians.
  • Over 90% of participants reported the course was worth their time and that they would recommend it to other people.
  • Most people made good clinical improvements in how much they were able to do day-to-day and their emotional wellbeing.
  • Many participants were also able to work through the course with very little contact with therapists and still make significant improvements.

The Pain Course is recommended for people who:

  • Are 18 years of age or older
  • Are Australian residents
  • Experience symptoms of chronic pain and symptoms of anxiety, low mood and depression, who want to improve the management of pain and emotional wellbeing
  • Have at least four hours a week to spend working on the course and practicing the skills

The Pain Course is not suitable for people who:

We advise you to discuss your participation in this course with your GP and other health professionals. Maintaining a good working relationship with your GP is essential and they can help you decide whether this program is going to be suitable for you.

Click here to start your assessment

Our Association is dedicated to providing advocacy for all of our sufferers and connecting people with health providers who can assist in all area of their lives
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Chronic Pain Infographic

Many of our learnt reactions have been created from previous experiences, and our brains then program us how to behave.  However we can reprogram our thoughts and reactions with a bit of brain training

Targeted Rewiring
The process of rewiring the neural pathways of chronic
pain requires experimentation, patience, and consistency.
Science-backed techniques,
like those found in the Curable
app, can greatly assist in this

This handy Info-graphic produced by Curable gives an insight into the reactions we can change – download from the link below

Chronic Pain Infographic

We mention the Curable App as one method to help reduce the impact of pain,  there are other apps on the market and we are not endorsing use or purchase