Therapy in a Nutshell

Mental Filtering: Why you may only notice the Negative

January 5, 2021

Mental filtering is the cognitive distortion where we only see one aspect of a situation, usually the negative side of it when it comes to depression or anxiety. You focus on the negative and disregard or filter out all the positive. You pick out a single negative detail and hyperfocus on this instead of everything else going on. If you can’t see anything positive, then your thoughts are lying to you. Mental filtering makes us more anxious, but anxiety makes us mental filter more- because anxiety attunes our brain to threats, making it so that we’re more likely to notice the bad. Mental filtering makes us more depressed, when we only notice the bad, life is depressing. But when we feel crappy, when we feel depressed, we’re more likely to mental filter.

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Therapy in a Nutshell, and the information provided by Emma McAdam, is solely intended for informational and entertainment purposes and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis, or treatment regarding medical or mental health conditions. Although Emma McAdam is a licensed marriage and family therapist, the views expressed on this site or any related content should not be taken for medical or psychiatric advice. Always consult your physician before making any decisions related to your physical or mental health. If you are in crisis please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at: or 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or your local emergency services. Copyright Therapy in a Nutshell, LLC

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