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Last Updated on April 28, 2023

Do you agonize over what you might have done differently or constantly replay situations that are negative in your head? You could be a ruminative thinker, which may be a roadblock to defeating depression.

Based on a current study published in Psychological Science, people with depression have a harder time shaking negative ideas than those who aren’t depressed. That is because depression can make turning your focus on other things feel practically impossible. And here’s the kicker: the more people ruminate, the more depressed they might become.

“Many folks believe that when they feel down or depressed they should attempt to focus inwardly and appraise their feelings and their situation — they think this will help them gain insight and find answers which may ultimately solve their issues and relieve their depressive symptoms,” explains psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, professor in the department of psychology at the University of California in Riverside.

Lyubomirsky, writer of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want (Penguin Press, 2008), says research suggests that people are better off if they are able to fight this inclination to brood on the causes and impacts of the depression.

“These studies have proven that persistent rumination concerning the implications of one’s depressive symptoms truly keeps those symptoms, impairs one’s power to resolve problems, and ushers in a host of negative outcomes,” says Lyubomirsky.

Instead of conquering depression, ruminative thinking leads folks to:

  • Feel much more miserable, nervous, angry, and depressed
  • Think more negatively and pessimistically about themselves, their troubles, as well as their futures
  • Use fewer effective problem-solving strategies
  • Feel less motivation to act
  • Have a decreased capability to concentrate
  • Experience even more pressure and more troubles

Believing that is ruminative complicates the process of having melancholy help, but can result in other problem behaviors including binge eating, binge drinking, and self-injury.

There’ll be times when you need to seriously consider problems in your lifetime and how to solve them. The difference between standard worrying and ruminative thinking is that ruminating allows you to feel less able to fix the issue, thus adding to melancholy, while worry should prompt you solving.

Stopping Ruminative Thinking to Help Your Depression

To stop the effects of ruminative thinking, try these strategies:

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  • Deflect yourself. Engaging, pleasant tasks, like exercise or hanging out with friends, are best. You’ll be better able to solve issues, when you are feeling more positive.
  • Stop that train of thought. Think and even tell yourself “Quit!” or “No!” when you begin to ruminate.
  • Schedule rumination. Should you plan a 30-minute rumination session, then you might not even feel like ruminating when the time arrives.
  • Share. Talking during your concerns can help, but be sure to pick someone who won’t simply ruminate along with you.
  • Write it down. Tracking your ruminative thoughts in a journal can assist you to overcome depression by organizing those thoughts and relieving yourself of their burden.
  • Solve an issue. Even taking a little step toward solving one issue that is weighing you down will help with overcoming depression. Data show a powerful connection between targets you CAn’t reach and depression -inducing ruminative thinking begin problem solving.
  • Identify triggers. Figure out which places, times, situations, or people are most likely to cause a bout of rumination, and find strategies to avoid those causes or manage them better. Evenings and mornings would be the times when ruminative thinking is likely.
  • Meditate. Mindfulness techniques can help you get some distance in the thoughts that trouble you, while in the exact same time reducing strain.
  • Cease linking goals that are small to large goals. For instance, you will need to challenge a belief that achieving large goals (for example well-being) fully depends on succeeding at smaller goals (such as losing five pounds).
  • Get treatment. Seek cognitive therapy methods to help you question your ideas and find alternative ways of seeing your situation.

    When you feel your thoughts are moving toward ruminating over your moods and issues, take steps to stop this downward spiral. Overcoming depression could depend on your own capability to interrupt this ruminative thought process just as it starts.

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