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The Downside of Rumination in Depressed Patients

 

Narrator: This is Science Today. Many people believe that depressed people should try to focus inwardly to analyze their feelings and problems to gain self-insight and to find solutions. Contrary to such beliefs, positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside says her research suggests that ruminating over one's depressive symptoms appears to maintain those symptoms and hinder one's ability to solve problems.

Lyubomirsky: For many years I've been doing research on rumination, which is basically overthinking - when you kind of dwell on your negative feelings and all the problems in your life and what's going to happen if thing don't change. If you ruminate, you probably think that you're solving your problem or trying to gain insight into your problems, but you're not.

Narrator: Lyubomirsky explains that's because ruminating when you're feeling anxious or sad, just makes you feel even more down.

Lyubomirsky: There's now quite a few studies that suggest what you can do to stop ruminations and the most basic technique is distraction, which sounds difficult or it sounds simple, but it really works - it's actually incredible how well it works.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.