Distorted thinking, also called cognitive distortions, is a pattern of inaccurate, damaging thoughts. Distorted thinking is a common symptom of many different mental health disorders, including both generalized and social anxiety and personality disorders. To the person thinking them, these thoughts seem logical and truthful, but in reality they are not.
Instead, distorted thinking reinforces negative emotions and beliefs, which can exacerbate feelings of low self-esteem, worsen mental health disorder symptoms and trigger self-destructive behaviors. For example, for a person suffering from social anxiety, distorted thinking patterns may reinforce their feelings of social discomfort and cause complete withdrawal from social situations. If not addressed properly, distorted thinking patterns can increase personal distress and prevent complete, lasting recovery from mental health disorders.