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Does Rumination Impact Depression & Anxiety?

Triggers to anxiety are subjective, hence they differ for every person and also depend on the environment. A person may be anxious or feel low because of external factors or internal factors. However, there is one thing commonly observed as a symptom when a person experiences depression called rumination of thoughts. One tends to feel helpless and caught up in the cain of over thinking. Rumination is a common symptom and is experienced by many people. 

What exactly is rumination?

It is when constant negative thoughts keep churning in one’s mind over and over again without having a control on the same. For example holding onto a grudge and constantly having the same thoughts and dialogues of the event on repeat mode in the mind. 

Rumination can be as compelling as drug addiction. Once a person continuously ruminates it is a possibility he or she might socially isolate themselves. This can turn to be harmful leading to an increase in the symptoms as well as the severity of depression or anxiety. In all, rumination can lead a person to social isolation and it can make him or her feel more helpless than he or she actually is.

What causes rumination?

There are different psychological reasons behind people self-isolating themselves or ruminating. Here are some of the common reasons behind rumination we have found while the client interaction:

  • A person may ruminate to know the cause of depression, trying to think what led them to this dilemma.
  • A trauma dated in the past can be a reason to ruminate about its effects and consequences. 
  • Other reasons can be stressful relationships, workplace stressors, or financial crises.

Additionally, idealistic or perfectionist tendencies often lead to ruminating thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Depression can cause a fear of losing people because of increasing social isolation and decreased energy to make efforts, it can distance a person from their loved ones. This can give rise to emotion seeking behaviors, however, the slightest change noticed in the other person’s behavior can make the individual feel unwanted again leading him or her to the cycle of ruminating negative thoughts. 

How to protect yourself from rumination?

If rumination becomes a habitual tendency it can be difficult to stop. However, it can be handled if one practises certain tips and works in the direction of having more self-control. Follow the tips mentioned below to help yourself improve your mental well-being:

Focus on positives when ruminating about the negatives:

Try to divert your attention and be grounded in the present when ruminating thoughts cross your mind.  Engage yourself in a sport or a simple outdoor game if that helps, listening to music can also help change your mood.

Avoid excessive worrying which may lead to overthinking and vice-versa:

Overthinking and rumination can have the same aftereffects. try to stay aware and be mindful of your thoughts throughout the day, and if it feels like the chain of thoughts is building up, bring yourself back to the present moment in reality. 

Build your self-esteem:

Working on self-esteem is a prerequisite for coming out of depression or anxiety. Identify your negative thoughts and focus on positives and reality. 

If you feel like a person is going to affect your thought process, learn to maintain distance. Build relationships that are fruitful for your mental health. 

Know the triggers:

The human body always gives lots of signs at the earliest stage to examine yourself. Try to evaluate what is triggering you the most to ruminate. Learn how to deal better with these situations by keeping yourself aware and grounded in the present.


Try mindfulness meditation to deal better with rumination. When you meditate, your senses work appropriately, and the mind becomes calm which helps the body be more steady. Meditation also helps manage the symptoms of anxiety and depression better. 


Communication gets challenging when you suffer from depression or anxiety. However, no matter how typical it may sound communication is the real key. Talking to a friend or your loved one helps analyse your thoughts and it also helps you identify the blind spots that lead you to overthinking. 

Rumination is bad and good, too, depending on the situation. However, if you are going through depression or anxiety, then it can have adverse effects. Continuous overthinking can interfere with the brain’s activity, and it can lead to panic, confusion or anxiety attacks. Talk to your therapist if you are going through this state, and find a solution for it because ignoring rumination will just affect you more.

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