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Katharina  Star, Ph.D.

Overgeneralization

By September 12, 2011

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Overgeneralization is another type of cognitive distortion, or negative thinking pattern, that is common among people with anxiety and depression. People who overgeneralize typically view the smallest setbacks as a life of never-ending defeat and failure. When in this negative thinking pattern, a person will take one bad experience or personal flaw and make broad generalizations across their lives and personal traits.

This cognitive distortion is frequently experienced by people with panic disorder. For example, Jen frequently overgeneralizes when she thinks about her struggle with panic attacks. When feeling anxious, she often says to herself, "I will always be nervous. I am such a neurotic and crazy person. I will never be a calm and collected person. I will never accomplish anything in life."  This is an overgeneralization. Having symptoms of panic disorder does not mean that the person cannot achieve success in life.

Learn more about this cognitive distortion and ways to overcome in the article about overgeneralization.

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