Jumping to Conclusions With Panic Disorder

Jumping to conclusions is a common issue for people with a panic disorder. Learn about how to move past negative thinking patterns.

What Does Jumping to Conclusions Mean?

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Jumping to conclusions is a type of negative thinking pattern, known as cognitive distortions.  Cognitive distortions are habitual and faulty ways of thinking that are common among people who struggle with depression and anxiety. Theories of cognitive therapy claim that we are what we think we are. When a person is jumping to conclusions, they are drawing negative conclusions with little or no evidence of their assumptions.  

Jumping to conclusions can occur in two ways: mind-reading and fortune-telling. When a person is “mind-reading” they are assuming that others are negatively evaluating them or have bad intentions for them. When a person is “fortune-telling,” they are predicting a negative future outcome or deciding that situations will turn out for the worst before the situation has even occurred. Let’s look at a few examples of how a person may be jumping to conclusions and ways in which such a negative thinking pattern can be ​reframed


Despite having good relationships with her coworkers, Diane believes that they don’t see her as being as smart or capable as the rest of the office. Diane was recently assigned an important project that she was excited to work on. However, she has been telling herself “They all already think I’m dumb. I just know I will make a mistake and ruin this entire project.”  

Aidan suffered from a panic disorder without agoraphobia for most of his adult life. Despite experiencing the occasional physical symptoms of panic and anxiety, he was able to manage his condition. Aidan had been under a tremendous amount of stress when he had a panic attack at work. Aidan felt ashamed because several of his coworkers were there when it happened. He believed that his coworkers already looked down on him for showing signs of anxiety. Aidan now felt that his co-workers would think that he is crazy. He also worried that he would lose his job if his boss ever finds out. He feared that if he lost his job due to his condition; then no other company would hire him.

Rethink It

Diane’s negative thoughts are not based on anything factual. She can choose to believe that her coworkers respect her. What evidence does Diane have that they look down on her or that this project will fail? She can also tell herself that she will do her very best on this project and if a mistake is made, she will learn from it.  

Aidan has learned to successfully cope with panic disorder. However, he is jumping to conclusions about what others think and the outcome of future events. Aidan is not basing these thoughts on any facts. Rather, he is “mind-reading” with his coworkers and “fortune-telling” with the outcome of his job. Most people are so focused on their own lives. Aidan’s coworkers may be more concerned about themselves and don’t care to scrutinize Aidan’s anxiety. Could it be possible that some of his coworkers would feel empathetic toward Aidan for the amount of stress he has been under? Can others potentially relate to Aidan’s issues with panic and anxiety?

When you find yourself mind reading and fortune telling, remind yourself that you are jumping to conclusions. Could it be possible that others admire you? Also, take note when you are predicting that only the worse will happen. Balance this thought out by thinking about what would be the best outcome of any given situation. Most likely, the result will be somewhere in between these two extremes.

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4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Johnstone KM, Chen J, Balzan RP. An investigation into the jumping-to-conclusions bias in social anxietyConscious Cogn. 2017;48:55–65. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2016.10.012

  2. Rnic K, Dozois DJ, Martin RA. Cognitive Distortions, Humor Styles, and DepressionEur J Psychol. 2016;12(3):348–362. doi:10.5964/ejop.v12i3.1118

  3. Jolley S, Thompson C, Hurley J, et al. Jumping to the wrong conclusions? An investigation of the mechanisms of reasoning errors in delusionsPsychiatry Res. 2014;219(2):275–282. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.05.051

  4. Maric M, Heyne DA, van Widenfelt BM. et al. Distorted cognitive processing in youth: The structure of negative cognitive errors and their associations with anxietyCogn Ther Res. 2011;35:11–20. doi:10.1007/s10608-009-9285-3

Additional Reading
  • Burns, D. D. “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy,” Avon Books: New York, 1999.
  • Burns, D.D. “When Panic Attacks: The New Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life” Broadway Books: New York, 2006.