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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Have you ever heard of the term catastrophizing? It is a way of thinking that makes it impossible for you to enjoy the good things that happens on your day to day. Suddenly, you are overtaken by a feeling of despair and start obsessing about things that didn’t even happen. And what happens when you worry too much in advance? You get more anxious and start self-sabotaging! Procrastinating, avoiding incridible experiences and even giving up on persuing your dreams are all possible consequences of catastrophizing. The fear of everything going wrong becomes part of your daily life, which has a direct impact on your mental health.

So, if you think you might suffer from this phenomenon, it’s important to learn how to overcome it. To understand catastrophizing better, Her Campus  interviewed the Brazilian psychologist Larissa Taconelli Palhares, 24, from São Paulo. She explained what this distortion of thinking is, what its impacts are and how to deal with it. Check it out!

Her Campus: What is catastrophizing? 

Larissa Palhares: Cognitive distortions are distorted ways of thinking that people present when interpreting certain day-to-day situations with negative consequences for their lives, causing unnecessary suffering. One of them is catastrophizing, which is the distortion of reality in which the person is pessimistic and negative about a situation that will happen, without considering other possible outcomes. This distortion is very common, especially in those who suffer from anxiety and makes us believe that what could happen will be terrible, intolerable or unbearable.

Catastrophic thinking is often a temptation. Putting ourselves in the worst-case scenario can stave off disappointment, but we pay the price of planting the seed of bitterness in ourselves.

H.C.: How does it impact on anxiety?

L.P.: Catastrophizing and anxiety are linked because catastrophic thinking brings a feeling of lack of control. It is very difficult to think of ways out and how to deal with this problem and that is why we feel anxious. It’s as if we have no base, no control over the situation. In addition, it is important to point out that anxiety is a feeling that distances us from the present, from what is actually happening, and takes us to the future, future thoughts, future scenarios. And catastrophic thinking can actually affect these scenarios, since the individual is placed in negative and bad thoughts, where worries and anxiety have a lot of room to amplify.

H.C.: How does catastrophizing affect someone’s daily life? 

L.P.: For some people, catastrophizing also becomes a kind of defense mechanism. It’s as if thinking about the worst allows us to feel relieved that, in the end, this unlikely scenario didn’t happen. Somehow, they feel that putting themselves at the worst protects them from disappointment and pain. It’s a kind of “escape from the future” that, however, it involves them in a ball of unnecessary anguish.

H.C.: How to deal with it? 

L.P.: A tip to weaken this way of thinking is to look at reality, because one of the characteristics of catastrophic thinking is that it is not based on the recognition of real risks, that is, the fear it brings is not likely to happen, precisely for having a potentialized origin of our imagination. That kind of thinking doesn’t protect us or help us vent. On the contrary, it takes away our initiative, at the same time it makes us more nonconformist.

If you feel like you can’t deal with catastrophizing on your own, don’t hesitate on asking for support. Therapy is always the best way to help you sort out your feelings and take care of your mental health. It is important to be kind to yourself, and there’s no better way to do this than embracing your emotions and feeling free to be your best version, worrying less about what could happen and committing more to the experiences you are living now.


The article above was written by Julia Tuma de Queiroz and edited by Amanda Moraes. Liked this type of content? Check out Her Campus Cásper Líbero home page for more!

Julia Tuma de Queiroz

Casper Libero '25

Estudante de jornalismo pela Faculdade Cásper Líbero, amante da literatura clássica e de jardinagem. Além disso ando por todos os cantos e quando convêm escrevo algumas coisas por aí :)