How to stop thinking about depression when faced with depression

Stop brooding with these 3 techniques

When thoughts are circulated endlessly, it is a dangerous habit that can be linked to serious psychological conditions. In extreme cases, they range from depression, borderline disorder, schizophrenia and burnout to obsessive-compulsive disorder and acute anxiety states.

How much brooding is normal? Depending on the situation, each of us may have brooding attacks. In itself this is not a problem, but you quickly find yourself in a gray area in which the carousel of thought becomes independent and lays the first foundations of psychological problems. Therefore, it makes sense to take a close look at an early stage in order to maintain control over our thought patterns. In this article we describe the dangers of constant brooding. We'll let you know what you can do to stop the brooding and restore your well-being, inner calm and happiness.

Why brooding makes you sick

Why do you brood? Some of the most common explanations for brooding, according to the American Psychological Association [1], are:

  • the belief that ruminating gives us insight into our problem / life
  • a history of physical or emotional trauma
  • Dealing with persistent stressors that cannot be controlled

Endless, negative circles of thought are also common in people with neurotic or perfectionist tendencies.
It is perfectly normal for most of us to revisit past events to understand what went wrong - and what lessons we can learn from past mistakes. According to a study by Matt Killingsworth [2], we mentally spend almost half of our waking hours in the past or the future instead of living in the here and now!

In extreme cases, however, this behavior can lead to compulsive riding around on negative aspects of one's past or future. This type of thought carousel has high cognitive and emotional costs.

“Constant brooding is the obsessive rethinking or reflecting on the negative aspects of one's past or future. This way of thinking has high cognitive and emotional costs. "

Brooding: How thought loops arise

For example, psychological research has shown that there is a link between brooding and negative mental states such as anxiety and depression. Sooner or later, compulsively brooding people get into an obsessive cycle of negative thoughts, which in turn lead to feelings of helplessness, guilt, anger or regret as well as increased stress.

In addition, a connection between brooding and depression was concluded: A US study found that chronically brooding people were more likely to become and remain clinically depressed after traumatic events, such as the loss of a loved one. So it seems that constant brooding and depressive states are mutually reinforcing. This can send the affected person into a spiral of uncontrolled negativity. [3]

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

In clinical psychology, constant thinking or brooding is classified as a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The intrusive and depressing thoughts caused by brooding are impossible to stop over time. It is precisely this loss of control over one's own thoughts that has led many psychologists to make a connection between this state and compulsive behavior. [4]

Binge eating and binge drinking

Researchers also found a link between brooding and harmful behavior, such as binge drinking and binge eating. A study published in 2014 suggests that prolonged brooding causes binge eating, or exacerbates it in cases where this behavior already exists. [5] In the case of binge drinking, a long-term study among American students found a causal relationship between brooding, depression and heavy drinking. [6]

Stop brooding: Over-worrying can cause depression

It seems that brooding leads to a type of uncontrolled behavior. They become a coping strategy, a symbolic drain valve, and a way to regulate the negative emotions that are exacerbated by constant rolling of thoughts.

Negative interpersonal effects

Ultimately, the constant ruminating on the same negative thoughts leads to an inability to cope with basic tasks of daily life. Because brooders are so absorbed in unhealthy thoughts, they interfere with their ability to do work and deal with personal or professional relationships.

In addition to the mental health consequences, constant thought-changing has serious interpersonal effects! Prolonged brooding can undermine support from friends and relatives, creating a cycle of frustration and alienation that becomes a cause of further brooding.

Impaired brain function

More importantly, brooding is detrimental to the brain in the long run. Those who suffer from it focus solely on the smallest details of a problem rather than trying to find a solution.
Similar to what is the case with clinically depressed patients, brain function in people who constantly brood is so impaired that it hinders their ability to solve problems. Instead, negative neural networks create an unrealistic sense of despair. They condemn the situation with the belief that no solution is in sight.

Three techniques to stop brooding

There is little doubt that brooding is a psychological burden. If you are suffering from this condition, it sure helps to know that others in the same situation have managed to put an end to the unproductive thought. There are many strategies out there that can help you break a pattern of thinking that has become a habit. We'll introduce you to three techniques that can help you stop pondering. Brooding, what helps is that you learn how to take a step forward to a healthier existence that is filled with happiness and appreciation rather than worry and fear.

1. Mindfulness training

Recently, psychologists have developed cognitive therapies that help patients stop brooding by incorporating elements of mindfulness practice. This is effective because mindfulness requires us to reflect on how we are thinking rather than simply jumping into a spiral of negative thoughts. Mindfulness also brings a heightened awareness of your own thought patterns and enhances your ability to recognize or sense triggers when negative intrusive thoughts reach a point of no return.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) often includes psychological intervention and learning units as well as yoga, meditation and breathing techniques. The aim is to give people who are constantly pondering negative thoughts insights into how their brains work and to focus on the current state. This helps them suppress the impulse of compulsive focus on past events.

2. Problem solving techniques

Throwing negative thoughts has sometimes been described as "problem solving failed". So it only makes sense that one of the ways to stop brooding is by learning problem-solving techniques. This is to address and reverse the debilitating effects of brooding.
The first step is to ask the right questions: for example, instead of asking, "Why did this happen?" should you ask an action-oriented question like "What can I do about it?" put. Then, move on to the basic troubleshooting steps:

  • Identify the problem
  • decide on your goal
  • List the resources that will help you achieve your goals
  • Draw up a step-by-step plan of action
  • write it down in writing if necessary

3. Distraction

The third technique involves not giving your mind the time or space to engage in harmful brooding. Instead, keep your mind occupied with something that you find interesting or motivating. It can be anything from singing to volunteering to exercising. The important thing is to choose a constructive distraction [8] rather than indulging in unhealthy distractions like getting drunk or overeating.

Stay busy: distract your mind with exercise!

Admittedly, it can be difficult to deal with anything else. It's too easy to unconsciously slip into constant brooding again. But do your best to replace thought patterns. It will get easier as your mindfulness training progresses. Another strategy can be to allow yourself short brooding times, but to set a time limit [9] or "planned brooding sessions" straight away (and to keep them short and to stick to the schedule) [10].

Stopping the Brooding: These are the Benefits

Once you've made a decision to put a stop to the brooding and focus on replacing it with positive thought patterns, you can look forward to many physical and psychological benefits. By overcoming constant brooding, you free yourself from harmful and unproductive thoughts, which has a positive effect on your overall well-being.
Like constant brooding, depression, anxiety, and other destructive behaviors are mutually reinforcing. Breaking out of this circle can increase confidence in yourself and in your ability to take your life back into your own hands. Interestingly, thought ruminants are often on a never-ending quest for insight (that is, asking questions that rarely have an answer). But only those who manage to break this habit can look forward to a heightened awareness and understanding of themselves [11].

See the light: free your soul and stop brooding

With effort, practice, and support, you can overcome the heavy burden of mind rolling. You can break free from the vicious circle of inaction and regain control of your thoughts and your future. Do your best to stop the constant brooding and you will have a path to a more balanced view of your past, present and future.




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Author: Dee Marques

Dee is a social science graduate with a keen interest in languages, communication, and personal development strategies. She loves sports, being outside in nature and discovering warm and sunny places where she can escape winter.