Hi there, so I can’t seem to find a definitive answer on this. I continuously have these voices in my head, which when I was younger didn’t bother me but I find nowadays that instead of “that little voice” just being there to second guess myself or double check myself it creates negativity. I don’t know if I would call it depression but it just seems that even though I know I have all the opportunity in the world and realistically life really isn’t that bad, I still feel empty, like what I have and the future opportunities I might get just aren’t enough. In some cases I convince myself that the good really isn’t even real and its driving me mad because my rational mind tells me I’m being stupid but my “little voice” tells me otherwise, its like my mind is in a continuous fight with itself,,, hopefully I could get a bit of light shed on the above as all the sites I check give different “diagnosis” but I see similarities to myself in each of those diagnosis?

A: As helpful as online quizzes and educational websites can be, the only way to get a definitive diagnosis is to see a mental health professional in person for an evaluation. As I’m sure you have learned, sometimes hearing voices is considered a symptom of psychosis which could be related to schizophrenia, severe depression or bipolar disorder. Sometimes it is part of a dissociative disorder due to severe trauma. However, most of the time it is just our own mind having a dialogue within itself. This sounds more like what you are describing here.

In psychoanalytic (Freudian) terms it could be called having a harsh super ego. In cognitive psychology terms it could be considered negative self-talk or cognitive distortion. Thinking about and developing an understanding of our own thinking patterns is also called metacognition.

It sounds like you have developed an overly critical way of talking to yourself and evaluating your world. This can come from our environment (parents or upbringing), significant life experiences that have influenced us or it can just be a personality trait that we possess. However, you can train yourself to change the way think, which will eventually influence how you feel and act. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Change your thinking, change your life?”

There are many self-help books available to help change thinking patterns or you could seek the help of a therapist. Negative thinking can eventually lead to more severe issues such as depression or anxiety disorders, so I hope that you will do what you can to change these patterns now.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts