Bits of Psychology – rumination and its consequences.


Yesterday we took a deep dive into what rumination actually is. It is one of the symptoms of depression among other mental illnesses.


We defined rumination as a form of perserverative cognition that focuses on negative content, generally past and present, and results in emotional distress[1]. It’s getting stuck thinking about everything that led to and resulted from a negative experience. It is strongly linked to both depression and anxiety. [2]




What can the link be between rumination, depression and problems with cognitive functions?


Rumination is thought to absorb a lot of the brainpower available to the person, leaving him or her with less cognitive resources to pay attention and to remember things. When the energy is used to go over and over your thoughts, you’ll have more trouble to bring the attention to the task at hand.


This influences the episodic memory and the working memory. The episodic memory is the recollection of the specific events that happened to you and working memory is the things you remember in the moment to process other information. An example would be when you try to calculate (8 + 14 + 30) /2 = ?, you’ll need to remember the 8 in the first place.


As a result people with depression can experience cognitive problems as lack of concentration, difficulties with understanding, processing and responding to information.


I can tell you that that is very much the case, as it can take me ages sometimes to type up a post. I need to go over and over the information, to hold on to it long enough to process it and to see some kind of connection. On days when I feel better, that whole process goes a lot faster and is less draining for me. And sometimes it leads to shorter posts, like this one.


To break your rumination pattern you would need to redirect your thought process towards something that makes you feel better (like think happy thoughts!) but rumination doesn’t ease this redirection and people get stuck. This can take away your desire to be drawn towards doing something fun or nice for you or someone else.


Rumination can lead to anger and irritability, both symptoms of depression. Rumination is a coping strategy people use to use to help to regulate their emotions. It is just not a very good one. While thinking about when someone (or a situation)  did you wrong, due to rumination you keep on thinking that and you become more angry.


Therapy can help you to redirect the thought processes you are stuck in or to digest the past so the rumination won’t be that necessary anymore.



Online resources.




24 thoughts on “Bits of Psychology – rumination and its consequences.

    1. Sick leave they say, you can rest at home they say! All lies, I say, being ill is hard work. It’s so hard, you need to be comforted by elevator music. Ha! Of course you could try some good ol’ essential oils and all of your problems (and money) will fly out of the window. Which leaves you with another set of problems. O life! I’m going to hide in my elevator!

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  1. Rumination can be ‘crippling’ for some and I guess that many of us who blog about mental health know that feeling? And can empathise.

    Rumination can affect our relationships too. Sometimes, I could just be peeling potatoes at the sink and I get automatic negative thoughts (ANT’s) perhaps about a wrong-doing from the past and I ruminate which turns to anger. Then my poor hubby walks into the kitchen and I snap at him – like it’s his fault.

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    1. It builds up that is for sure. I blame my neighbors for a lot of things. They are obnoxious but some of the anger is my frustration projected on them.
      I try to let it go because all the negativity comes to bite me in the end.
      I find it helpful to notice the signs of rumination and try to come back to the present moment.
      Life is so short and there is so much to learn!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can see how rumination would take up a lot of mental energy. Probably not quite as much as intrusive thoughts since you said those are usually resisted or at least disliked. Still, the effect of rumination on episodic memory explains why I often have trouble recalling details of a day where I spent a lot of time going through old scripts without any updates.

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    1. Yes it can result in such a confused mind maybe because while ruminating on the past, you can try weave in some things of the present but they may not ‘stick’ that good or get mixed up. I get a lot of: ‘But I told you this last week’ and I don’t recall a word of it. I need to write everything down in my big book ☺

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  3. I’m interested to know if rumination is purely thinking deeply about negative things, or you simply think deeply about things. If you’re in a negative mood, your rumination is negative. If you’re concerned about your health, your rumination could be both negative and positive.

    If rumination is purely negative deep thinking, what is the opposite of it?

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    1. Rumination is thinking over and over and over again over past or present. The problem is that you don’t go forward, you are stuck in the merry go round and there are no solutions in your thinking.
      The opposite could be worrying about the future (which is always uncertain) and there again you can get stuck and this can lead to anxiety. When you think positive things, you are not that depressed anymore and can find a solution.
      Maybe when you’re daydreaming, that is a good thing except when you do that to escape your present or past reality, than it becomes escapism, that can possibly be intertwined with depression.
      To conclude: As the opposite of rumination I see anxiety or excessive worry. In a lesser extend escapism. The healthy opposite is to find opportunities and solutions for your problem, your situation or your thinking in circles. Is that a good enough answer?
      Note that this are my own opinions and this is what I got out of doing my research. I do my best but I can’t be foolproof otherwise I’ve would have gotten the Nobelprize years ago 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand and appreciate your explanation because it’s true based on my own experience.

        When I was suffering from depression, my thoughts were negative and self-destructive, but since I have the habit of always asking questions to myself and contradicting my own opinions and beliefs, this type of deep thinking also helped me get rid of my suicidal ideation. I am wondering if what it’s called in psychology. 🙂 It’s like pondering or reflecting deeply on something, asking questions over and over until I realized something and it hit me. Is it “introspection”? 🙂

        Thanks so much for your response. I really appreciate your time and the knowledge you’re sharing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I can completely relate to this! I don’t think I had ever joined up the concentration drain brought about by perpetual overthinking the past, and the struggle I have with short term memory and concentration too. I will definitely look more into this! Thank you for the post!

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