Those struggling with mental illness often experience what is called “ruminating thoughts”. These are excessive or intrusive thoughts about negative or traumatic experiences. Ruminating thoughts can also exist in the wake of a traumatic event, independent of mental illness. A person with a history of trauma may not be able to stop thinking about the traumatic event. Someone suffering from depression may not be able to stop thinking negative thoughts about themselves or their situation. These thoughts can be debilitating and create a sense of defeat. As you can imagine, excessive rumination worsens just about any mental illness. Thus, decreasing rumination can help keep our issues under control. These thoughts are prevalent in so many of our lives, and it is crucial we understand them in order to better navigate our struggle. 

Everyone experiences ruminating thoughts at some point. This experience is not exclusive to those of us who struggle with mental illness. A person can experience rumination before a big exam or in preparation for a big presentation at work. These thoughts are always there, forcing you to think about traumatic events, leading to stress and other negative emotions. Low self-esteem can be a trigger for ruminating thoughts. Other triggers included failed relationships, perfectionism, or phobias. All of these things can cause these intrusive thoughts to enter your mind and bring down your overall mood. When ruminating over ideas reach a point of consistent occurrence, it could indicate mental illness. When it reaches this stage, you should seek professional advice and treatment.  

Understanding Those Thoughts That Won’t Leave Us Alone

As we said, rumination is tied to several different kinds of mental health challenges. Depression leaves a person always thinking about negative parts of themselves. In anxiety, a person will ruminate on their specific fears and general concerns. Those with OCD can experience a crippling obsession with control. In severe cases like schizophrenia, a person may have intrusive thoughts, voices, and hallucinations that make it hard for them to focus on anything else. Rumination can also lead to the development of other conditions. There are many ways that rumination can be present in our lives, so it helps to know how to minimize their effects. 

Avoiding triggers is essential, as always. If the news or media makes your thoughts race, then avoid engaging with media. If a specific person causes unhealthy thinking, decrease your exposure to that person. Distracting yourself with something like exercise can keep the thoughts at bay. In fact, physical exercise is essential regardless of your mental condition. Just one workout session can significantly decrease the amount of ruminating thoughts you may have. Increasing your self-esteem is another effective way to combat ruminating thoughts. Find different talents and hobbies that you are good at to improve your self-confidence. People can often experience rumination when they are feeling down about their performance in some way.. Meditation is one practice that can help a person gain better control of their body and mind. The mindfulness that is focused on during meditation is extremely useful for escaping unwanted thoughts. Finally, you can try the method of interrogation. Interrogation is the act of questioning your troublesome beliefs. Ask yourself if they’re realistic or if they have any truth to them. By challenging these thoughts, you undermine their power. With sufficient practice, you can realize that the ideas have no valid basis whatsoever. 

Knowing when to seek professional help is essential when dealing with ruminating thoughts. An occasional occurrence of rumination is not a guarantee that a mental condition is forming, but they should be taken seriously. If they get to the point of debilitation, you should seek help immediately. Debilitating thoughts are those that intrude daily, worsen a mental condition, or include thoughts of suicide or self-harm.  Seeking help at the right time is needed to minimize the adverse effects of ruminating thoughts. 

Rumination is something that should be taken seriously. If ignored, these thoughts can have severe consequences. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources at your fingertips. Continue to talk about your feelings. Work on your methods and tools to keep these thoughts at bay. We are here to help you with all aspects of treatment, including ruminating thoughts. Through treatment, you can gain power over your thoughts that you might not have ever thought was possible.

     If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us today at (866) 399-6528.