Saturday, August 9

Rumination and Depression ...... 8/9/14

         Overthinking is easy.  The problem is, doing so often leads to depression.

       “Your mind goes round and round over negative events in the past, problems in the present or bad things you’re worried will happen in the future,” says Nolen-Hoeksema, who pioneered the study of women’s rumination and depression and is considered the go-to expert in the field.

        And this inability to release bad thoughts and memories can get you down.

        “You rehash events and analyze them, but don’t do anything to

solve the problems or feel more in control of your situation,” Nolen-Hoeksema says.  We will see more about an antidote to this tendency, later in this post. 

         Women are twice as likely as men to become depressed, and they’re also more prone to rumination.  No coincidence, states Nolen-Hoeksema.

How Does Ruminating Lead to Depression? 

        Negative thoughts breed hopelessness, despair, and low motivation and self-esteem. When rehearsing negative thoughts over and over, they grow even more powerful, disturbing. 
 As a person thinks in his or her heart, so is he or she.                   Proverbs 23:7
        Stresses seem bigger.   You’re more likely to react in an intense, lasting way. If vulnerable to depression, you can end up seriously upset.  Where is the growth in that?   Yet, for many, it is their default mode.  As an alcoholic binges on drinking, the depressed person binges on depressed feelings.  They are his or her normalcy.  Often that person's constant companion since childhood.  

        Often, rumination is focused on the past – bad things that have happened or unfortunate situations you wish had gone differently.  Then the person starts thinking that nothing is going right at work, co-workers don’t like him/her and his or her marriage is falling apart.

        The familiar emotional downward spiral has begun.

How Can You Tell If You’ve Crossed From Brooding to Depression?

        When a person suffers from major depression, they are down most of the time, losing interest in almost everything.  There are also other symptoms – changes in sleep or eating habits, tiredness, trouble concentrating, feelings of worthlessness.  The symptoms are bad enough to interfere with the ability to get along in daily life.

        Ruminating makes these symptoms worse.  If you’re only a little down, this mental self-torture can tip you over to severe depression.  Problem-solving becomes harder. Increased depression saps motivation to try any solution considered.

Do Women Suffer More From Depression?

         A long list of biological, social and psychological factors increase women’s chances of becoming depressed.  But they may also be genetically disposed.  And dramatic hormonal changes might trigger it. 

Is The Cause Mostly Physiological?

      Social factors come into play also.  Women tend to have more traumas in their past, and that contributes to a higher depression rate.  They also may live with chronically stressful situations such as job, sex discrimination or living with an abuser.   Psychologically, women can get wrapped up---due to codependency and passivity---in relationships, unable to pull out of unhealthy ones.   Usually this is a result of not having boundaries.   Conflict with others can also be a common trigger.

Why Don’t Men Ruminate?

      Men are generally less prone to rumination cycles.  Men typically spend less time thinking about relationship problems.  When they do, they're less likely to brood over conflicts with others, how they feel about things.   Instead, they take constructive steps to solve the problem or destructive steps to avoid it.

Should Women Try to “Man Up”? 

       We all need to cultivate our unique strengths.  Women usually are good at understanding feelings.  When a person is not mired in rumination, it allows that individual to cope with distressing situations.   Women more often anticipate the emotional consequences of life choices, which helps in making well-informed decisions.   Sometimes---as I am personally experiencing in my dealings with someone dear---anticipation of all possibilities related to a problem stymies us, paralyzing us.  The 3 P's come into play---which is actually a regression----perfectionism, procrastination, paralysis. 

        With problem-solving, women can be mentally flexible, focusing on getting things done, not just getting their way.   With my clients, most sessions end with creating an Action Plan.  We look at healthy alternatives to the besetting problems they face.  When we do this, we are creating a better today.  

       This is "staying in the solution."  It also involves not giving away our power.  We may not be able to control our circumstances but we can control how we respond to them. 

       Asking for help is a good idea, too.   This permits us to use the combined strengths of those around us, instead of doing everything ourselves.

       All in all, thinking can be helpful.  The trick is not to get mired in over-thinking that leads nowhere but down the road where the cross streets are depression and despair.

How About You? 
What do you do, to slow down your mind, when it is in overdrive? 


Superman said...

Thank you!!!


With Robin Williams' suicide, this article really hit the spot. We might think that we are OK, but day to day rumination and feeling blue can lead to frightening consequences.

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.