Rumination is the process of continuously thinking the same thoughts over and over which can negatively impact an individual’s mental health. It’s natural for people to attempt to problem solve by thinking of ways to prevent something from happening again or by making something better; however, ruminating can increase an individual’s distress and contribute to poor quality of life.
Rumination is the process of continuously thinking the same thoughts over and over which can negatively impact an individual’s mental health. It’s natural for people to attempt to problem solve by thinking of ways to prevent something from happening again or by making something better; however, ruminating can increase an individual’s distress and contribute to poor quality of life. Replaying the same thoughts and feelings over and over only causes more agitation and distress, and interferes with the mind and body’s natural ability to process through the emotional release needed. Rumination is associated with mood and anxiety disorders and is more common with certain temperaments and personality types.
Although, it’s natural to reflect on thoughts and experiences, doing so continuously can cause more problems. Ruminating about the same thoughts repeatedly can act as a type of false control over things in life an individual has no control over. In addition, rumination can impair a person’s cognitive health and intensify anxiety and depression.
Common causes of rumination includes:
- Possessing a faulty belief system where a person believes by thinking of the negative experiences they can gain control or gain insight from the experience
- Having a traumatic history
- Ongoing chronic stressors that the person has little to no control over
- Personality traits such as perfectionism and neuroticism
- Mental health disorders (e.g. depression, generalized anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, etc.)
Unmanaged rumination can interfere with important thought processes and can contribute to challenges in functioning, such as difficulty managing daily tasks, work, and may lead to interpersonal problems. Managing rumination begins with identifying the triggers that initiate the rumination cycle and interrupting that process once it starts. After putting thoughts into perspective, an individual explores a plan of action that consists of self-awareness and healthy distractions. These healthy distractions serve as a way to interrupt the rumination process.
Healthy distractions can consist of the following:
- Practice mindfulness
- Self-care (eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, exercise)
- Do something enjoyable
- Positive affirmations
- Take up a new hobby
- Consider Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy, is an effective and evidence-based treatment for many mental health disorders including major depression, other mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and can help with reducing and managing rumination. CBT focuses on identifying unhelpful thinking patterns and teaches the client how to reframe their thoughts to be more helpful, which then lessens symptoms.
Remember, rumination is treatable and relief is possible. If you’re struggling with rumination that is hard to manage on your own or it’s negatively impacting your life and relationships, consider talking to a licensed therapist who has a background and training in CBT.
Manage your Rumination with CHE
With CHE Behavioral Health Services, individuals can access therapy and medication management services online, making it easy to connect with a licensed mental health professional from the comfort of their own homes. Our team at CHE Behavioral Health Services is dedicated to providing personalized and evidence-based care that is tailored to each individual's needs, and we offer a range of resources and support to help individuals overcome the challenges of living with anxiety and depression.
For more information about treatment options offered by CHE, please call 888-515-3834. We are ready to talk and ready to listen.
Gotter, A. (2019, December 5). Racing thoughts: Tips for coping. Healthline. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/racing-thoughts#call-a-doctor
Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). The seven hidden dangers of brooding and ruminating. Psychology Today. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201306/the-seven-hidden-dangers-brooding-and-ruminating
Makenzie Pacubas, MSW, LCSW
CHE Quality Assurance Associate
Makenzie is a clinical social worker who has worked in the mental health field for over a decade and now works in clinical quality assurance with CHE Behavioral Health Services. Makenzie lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband, Justin, and their three pets. She likes music, singing, art, exercise, reading, getting outdoors, and trying new restaurants.