Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs)

The word ANTs were first used by renowned clinical neuroscientist and psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel G Amen to describe the different type of negative thoughts an individual can experience.

The premise is that every time you have a thought, your brain is activated and a chemical is released. If the thought is happy, then a chemical is released that makes you feel good; however, if the thought is bad, then the chemical released that makes you feel unhappy.


Dr. Amen describes 9 types of ANTs and offers suggestions on how to overcome the different negative thoughts and creative positive thoughts:

ANT 1 – All or nothing thoughts

ANT 2 – “Always” thoughts

ANT 3 – Focusing only on negative thoughts (red ANTs)

ANT 4 – Predicting the worse possible outcome thoughts (red ANTs)

ANT 5 – Mind reading thoughts (red ants)

ANT 6 – Thinking with your feelings thoughts

ANT 7 – Guilt thoughts

ANT 8 – Labeling self (or others) thoughts

ANT 9 – Blaming others thoughts (poisonous red ANTs)


The ANTs that do the most damage to a person’s confidence, self esteem and self worth are the Red ANTs – 3, 4, 5; whilst ANT 9 is the most poisonous red ANT and blames everyone else for problems in life and does not change anything to improve life.  


(Change Your BRAIN, Change Your life, 2015, pp 109-113)