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Rumination is the state of dwelling on repetitive negative thoughts, negative emotions and their causes and consequences. The repetitive negative aspect of rumination can lead to the development of depression or anxiety and make existing conditions worse.

A depressed person is more likely to remember more negative things that happened to them in the past when they think long and hard. They interpret situations in their current life more negatively and are more hopeless for the future.

Preoccupation with problems also makes it difficult to move beyond to focus on problem solving. Even in people without depression or anxiety, rumination can contribute to negative emotions. This can become a cycle where the more negative a person thinks, the worse they feel, which adds to more anxiety.

One study looked at links between a person’s conditions and past experiences, and the development of depression and anxiety. Researchers have found that the most important way a person’s past experiences, such as traumatic life events, can lead to depression or anxiety, is to “make the person ponder and blame oneself for the problem.”

Depression and anxiety are not simple conditions and do not have a single cause. A person’s family history or life experiences cannot be changed. But it is possible for a person to change their way of thinking and learn positive coping strategies that can reduce their stress level.

Here are the ways experts recommend to help break the cycle of deep negative thinking.

● Distract yourself with activities to stop negative thinking and focus on more positive memories.

● When you encounter difficulties, try to remember especially when things went well. Enlist the help of family or friends to remember past positive experiences, times when everything went well. This can help you shift your thinking to a different path.

● Physical activity and a change of environment can also help, especially in a place that has positive connotations for you.

● Try to separate different problems or break larger problems into smaller parts. Tackle one problem at a time. Make a step-by-step plan, be as specific as possible. Write it down. Then start moving forward, one step at a time.

If disturbing and repetitive negative thoughts bother you, be sure to contact a specialist.

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