Ruminating – the cause of depression?

Postby Rex » Sat Dec 27, 2003 9:10 pm

Which comes first, the ruminating or the depression? Do we ruminate because we are depressed or are we depressed because we are ruminating? Maybe we feel we have good reasons to ruminate. :(

In my case, I was brought up to believe that I was stupid and not bright enough to survive in the world – get a decent job etc. One of the postees (is there such a word?) to this site had talked about being brought up in a family that considered itself superior to other families. That struck a note with me. My family had the same atmosphere about it ...but then the postee’s (thank you for posting by the way) comment made me realize that my problem was that “I was never good enough…I would never live up to the family standards”. I had never really thought of it that way. :idea:

Now this is what I have been ruminating on for the past years …I realize almost all of my life. Once I left home I began to do quite well academically (I always did very badly at school) and now I have a management position, so one could argue that the ideas of “me being stupid” are obviously not true. Things began to change once I left the negative atmosphere of home and found friends that believed and supported me. I have a lot to be thankful for.

However the “me being stupid idea” is part of my core, it is part of my being, part of who I am, how I view myself. I remember that my first girlfriend told me that if I didn’t stop putting myself down and being so negative all the time, she would leave me. :( That did the trick; I have shut up talking about it ever since, and now I think most people (except those who know me really well) see me a quite a positive person – but I often get very down.

The “me being stupid” idea easily gets translated into “no body loves me” or “no body will love me” and isn’t it true that when this comes from your family, those that should always be behind you, those that should support you through life, it is even more difficult to deal with. You can look at the reasons for your family not being able to express love and support – they didn’t get it from their parents and so it goes on, but……What is my point? The bottom line is; if you didn’t get the love and respect from your parents and family - the most fundamental of human needs (surely?) [I notice that you don’t have this as one of your fundamental needs – why not?], are these not very good reasons to ruminate? You want to understand why they didn’t support or respect you – they surely must have had very good reasons and if the fundamental of ties, between parents and their children, which we all say is a natural instinct – isn’t there - then something must be seriously wrong. I am rambling, so I’ll stop.

I would welcome any comments, ideas, and thoughts on this?

By the way, I think you have an excellent site. A gold mine of information! Just think if we could solve this problem called “depression” what a wonderful place all of the world would be. I believe many of your ideas in the “learning path” are spot-on, they have really provided me some new and useful insights. Thank you!
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#1

Postby jules » Tue Dec 30, 2003 9:04 am

which comes first the ruminating or the depression, i think this is a chicken and egg question. I suffer quite badley from depression at times and have pondered this question a lot and the best conclusion I have come to is to compare it to an asthma attack. I have a friend with asthma who can have an attack that is caused through worry or panic. He also panics when he has an asthma attack which inturn increases the severity of the attack..... what i'm trying to say is it's not so much which comes first but that one feeds off the other and causes a spiraling effect. This is much the same way my depression works and since I can't stop my depression so I try and stop ruminating by doing somthing physical that will distract me like mowing the lawn.
But the main reason I replied to your post was because my family also had a superiority problem. We immigrated Australia from England when I was young. My parents believed that because they were"British" they were better than everyone in our niebourhood. I also had difficulty living up to their unrealistic standards although I wasn't considered stupid I was bad, always getting into trouble, causing problems that were never delt with but hidden away so that the family appeared perfect and "superior"

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However the “me being stupid idea” is part of my core, it is part of my being, part of who I am, how I view myself. I remember that my first girlfriend told me that if I didn’t stop putting myself down and being so negative all the time, she would leave me. That did the trick; I have shut up talking about it ever since, and now I think most people (except those who know me really well) see me a quite a positive person – but I often get very down.
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I can relate to this, I too hide the fact that i feel bad a lot of the time; so much so that put me off having a relationship for longer than I care to mention.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this post but it is good meet people who have similar experiences with their depression and who knows if we keep discusing it enough we might discover a common cure and put a few shrinks out of work ha ha.
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#2

Postby Rex » Wed Dec 31, 2003 5:52 am

Thanks for your reply. I really like the idea of putting the "shrinks out of business". Great plan. Maybe through this medium and with the help of what we are calling the shirinks ('cos if we put them out of bunsiness then they have done their job well) we can compare notes on really what works and what doesn't. And hopefully with all of us working together we can find a solution to this terrible blight on all of out lives.

Lets continue to debate. I will give you a more detailed reply to your posting in due course.
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#3

Postby Roger Elliott » Mon Jan 05, 2004 1:18 pm

Which comes first, the ruminating or the depression? Do we ruminate because we are depressed or are we depressed because we are ruminating? Maybe we feel we have good reasons to ruminate

Hi Rex

Sounds like a circular and ruminatory kind of question ;) Here are my thoughts on this...

Firstly I like to distinguish clearly between rumination and contemplation. For myself, I define rumination as internalised thinking that goes nowhere. Also, to create depression, rumination has to cause emotional arousal. So if you can ruminate without emotional arousal, then fine. That's what I call contemplation.

In my opinion, rumination is only any good if it leads to action or decisions that end the rumination - otherwise you just have unpleasant circular thought - kind of mental self-flagellation.

the postee’s (thank you for posting by the way) comment made me realize that my problem was that “I was never good enough…I would never live up to the family standards”

This is the sort of 'insight' that can be useful if it leads to a change in the way you think and perceive yourself. Rumination (and these sorts of thoughts) are based on black and white thinking. That's not to say it is not understandable - of course it is - but to get the better of it, you have to see it for what it is - unrealistic.

However the “me being stupid idea” is part of my core

And when you manage to shift it outside of your core, it will have much less hold over you. Again, it's a black and white statement that has no footing in reality. Ask yourself "Is it possible for a basically intelligent person to do stupid things?" or "Is it possible for something that one person sees as stupid to appear to someone else as clever?"

Of course it is, and I'm sure I don't need to preach to you about that, but I can't stand to see the tyranny of emotionally-fueled thoughts undermining a person.

Once you are able to spot a black and white thought (such as "I am stupid", "Nobody loves me") as realise that they don't deserve your attention, you are more than halfway there.

Interacting with these ideas is locking yourself into a hellish double bind - much like the courtroom question "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" If you answer according to the rules of the question, you are guilty.

I treat these sorts of thoughts as pure hallucination. They are not truthful. They are not specific enough to act upon. They are someone else's ideas.

if you didn’t get the love and respect from your parents and family - the most fundamental of human needs (surely?) [I notice that you don’t have this as one of your fundamental needs – why not?], are these not very good reasons to ruminate?


Let me ask you a question: Are there people who had terrible upbringings who are not depressed?

The answer to this is Yes. By this do I mean that a less happy upbringing does not leave you more susceptible to emotional difficulties? No. The evidence is quite clear that it will tend to.

The basic needs are what people need to function well. If they are met, it is (highly) unlikely that the person will suffer emotional problems, regardless of their problems.

Is it possible to ruminate about an unhappy upbringing? Yes of course. Is it a good reason to? No, nothing is, unless you consider your aim to make yourself feel worse. It is bad enough to have to feel sad about it. Why ruminate so you have to feel anxious and depressed about it as well? It happened back then. Why let it affect the future?

Can you change what happened in the past? No. Can you change how you feel about it? Yes, to an extent. Can you change the effect it has on your present and future. Absolutely. Identifying your areas of control will help you clarify your aims and how to achieve them.

Please don't feel I am unsympathetic - I am not. It just seems that you are making progress in your thinking and I am trying to help give you a new perspective.

I see the results of peoples' terrible experiences all the time. My question to them (and myself) is "How are we going to get you to go forward without having to drag this with you?"

In summary, I am saying that rumination solves nothing. Asking yourself the wrong questions is a sure way to keep you in the depressed trance state.

That's my take on it :)

Roger
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#4

Postby Rex » Sat Jan 10, 2004 7:12 pm

Dear Roger,

You said:
"Please don't feel I am unsympathetic - I am not. It just seems that you are making progress in your thinking and I am trying to help give you a new perspective"

Just wanted to say thanks for your reply. I really appreciate your comments, the time taken to respond and some additional insights that you have given me - my perspective is changing - I think and hope.

Although I feel that the "depression is lifting", I am a little cautious though as I have thought the same in the past and then suddenly something triggered me to go right down again.

Several months ago I began to pay careful attention to what triggers my mood swings and that helped quite a lot ...but then the concept of "black and white" thinking was new to me and has given me a totally new and additionally helpful perspective on 'the triggers'. What I need to better understand though is how 'non depressed people' would think in a similar situation, one that makes me depressed. I realise that I am so used to the back and white thinking styles that I find it very difficult to see any other possibility. But, from an intellectual perspective, the concept of 'back and white' thinking styles is so powerful, so obvious, so insightful - I just have to convince my sub-conscious mind of that.

I mentioned before about "not being good enough for family standards". This realisation has been useful to me - because combined with the 'back and white thinking' concept I have now understood that the whole family thinking pattern has been 'black and white' and this lead to the feeling of not been good enough for the family.

I now suspect that all of the family feel that they are probably 'not good enough' to meet the family standards (we become part of setting standards that none of use feel we can meet - now thats crazy) -that may explain why we are not really close. As you suggest - ruminating cycles which have no end.

The 'black and white' thinking leads to downward spiral and once a child fails to do well at school, for example, and the parent responds in a 'catastrophic way' this is the beginning of the downward spiral - leading to poorer performance and so on - I now understand how the cycle may have began - with no end - continued for years. I have also being thinking how about how this 'black and white' thinking styles would have affected my parents and my brothers' lives - blinding them (all of us) from seeing opportunites. And I have been thinking about what in my parent's backgrounds would have lead them to the black and white thinking styles. I believe that these insights are helping me develop more empathy to family (what I have previously though of as) failings (hey that sounds like a grey thinking style coming creeping in there - where did that come from); realizing that we are all victims of the same problem.

Thanks again - all for now.

Rex
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#5

Postby Rex » Sat Jan 10, 2004 7:47 pm

Jules,

Happy New Year. I hope it is anyway.

I wanted to respond to your comment on difficulty with relationships. I too think this a big problem of mine. What I notice I keep doing when interacting people, more people at work or those that I want a romantic realtionship with (I notice I don't do it with 'normal' or good friends) - is continously look for signs / signals that they approve of me or have respect for me. And then when I feel that they say something that is a slight or suggests that they do not respect me - it triggers off my depression. Just like a spoilt child! But then I guess this is part of my emotions that are still 'child-like", that never grew up. And it is this obsession with looking for approval that I think is so disruptive to relationships- and makes us create even more distance from those we really want close realtionships with - or we end up only being able to form close relationships with those who do not challenge our feelings of insecurity ...........like you, I am not sure where I am going with this.....just random thoughts....maybe you have some ideas.

A ha ....what I have just realized is that it is only with people who I do not know where I stand with them ...that I continously look for approval from. With friends (most of the time), I know how I stand with them, I just accept it, and if they something to me that is a crticism about my personality, for example, or a suggestion of how I may improve, their comments do not affect me so much, because I know their comments are not related to any general impression they have of me.

So I guess that all comes from not knowing where I stood with my parents (and indeed the family) - what they thought of me - always believing underneath that they didnt have respect for me - that was my basic understanding - but continually looking for evidence that I may be wrong - maybe they did respect me afterall - and so the black and white thinking style developed - more believing any negative comments that reinforced my general impression of myself. This is where the need for 'tolerance of ambiguity' comes in - not always needing to know where you stand with someone because your are comfortble enough with who you are as an individual - is there anything written on this somewhere.

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#6

Postby grovelli » Thu Feb 05, 2004 7:29 am

Rex wrote:is there anything written on this somewhere.

There is here.
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#7

Postby Donna » Mon Feb 09, 2004 8:24 pm

Ruminating is a big problem of my depression especially when it comes to sleeping, i just cannot seem to stop thinking about things over and over in my head, these ruminations are unhelpful and sometimes cause great distress.

Which one came first in my case, i believe the rumination did, my inability to sort things out logically i think has been a factor of the depression, but i still ruminate now and it doesnt help the depression, it makes it worse, i find!
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#8

Postby Rex » Sun Feb 22, 2004 4:41 pm

Have you looked at the depression learning path? I found the whole concept of thinking styles very powerful for me .....becoming aware of when 'black and white' thinking styles are setting in and thinking through the alternative 'grey' options to break the cycle of rumination. It really works. And then have you looked at the hypnosis downloads linked to this site? .....they are a really helpful coach ...a positive voice to your subconcious that counteracts the negative rumination. I have being telling some friends about the wonders of hypnosis and they too are being amazed by its results.

Good luck

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#9

Postby flawedhuman » Mon Mar 01, 2004 9:35 am

Rex wrote:Which comes first, the ruminating or the depression? Do we ruminate because we are depressed or are we depressed because we are ruminating? Maybe we feel we have good reasons to ruminate. :(

In my case, I was brought up to believe that I was stupid and not bright enough to survive in the world – get a decent job etc. One of the postees (is there such a word?) to this site had talked about being brought up in a family that considered itself superior to other families. That struck a note with me. My family had the same atmosphere about it ...but then the postee’s (thank you for posting by the way) comment made me realize that my problem was that “I was never good enough…I would never live up to the family standards”. I had never really thought of it that way. :idea:

Now this is what I have been ruminating on for the past years …I realize almost all of my life. Once I left home I began to do quite well academically (I always did very badly at school) and now I have a management position, so one could argue that the ideas of “me being stupid” are obviously not true. Things began to change once I left the negative atmosphere of home and found friends that believed and supported me. I have a lot to be thankful for.

However the “me being stupid idea” is part of my core, it is part of my being, part of who I am, how I view myself. I remember that my first girlfriend told me that if I didn’t stop putting myself down and being so negative all the time, she would leave me. :( That did the trick; I have shut up talking about it ever since, and now I think most people (except those who know me really well) see me a quite a positive person – but I often get very down.

The “me being stupid” idea easily gets translated into “no body loves me” or “no body will love me” and isn’t it true that when this comes from your family, those that should always be behind you, those that should support you through life, it is even more difficult to deal with. You can look at the reasons for your family not being able to express love and support – they didn’t get it from their parents and so it goes on, but……What is my point? The bottom line is; if you didn’t get the love and respect from your parents and family - the most fundamental of human needs (surely?) [I notice that you don’t have this as one of your fundamental needs – why not?], are these not very good reasons to ruminate? You want to understand why they didn’t support or respect you – they surely must have had very good reasons and if the fundamental of ties, between parents and their children, which we all say is a natural instinct – isn’t there - then something must be seriously wrong. I am rambling, so I’ll stop.

I would welcome any comments, ideas, and thoughts on this?

By the way, I think you have an excellent site. A gold mine of information! Just think if we could solve this problem called “depression” what a wonderful place all of the world would be. I believe many of your ideas in the “learning path” are spot-on, they have really provided me some new and useful insights. Thank you!




Rex, I can relate very well. I was the "bad kid". Even speaking to the step relatives later in life about this they still claim i'm a "bad kid". I ruminate to no end, It easyily consumes my days. I ride it's rollercoasters to get me threw my day. Which is probably very unhealthy. Anyways I'm new to this forum. I thought I'd post my appreciation for your pflite.
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#10

Postby Rex » Tue Mar 09, 2004 3:24 am

Thanks,

I haven't looked at this site for sometime.....and noticed your reply. Thanks for your appreciation ...I appreciate it....

I think a major part of the problem is finding a way to change that interaction with family members ...a feeling that you have moved on...had so many different expereinces in life...met so many different people....a feeling of having developed and grown...but then when returning to the family fold....nothing seems to have changed.....they still seem to relate to you as they did 20 yrs ago...once the label is there is it possible to change it? Maybe it is easier...to leave it alone...accept that things won't change...although we never really want to do that. I am the youngest in my family, by 6 yrs....my bothers relate to me in a similar way as my parents....the family culture was set up all those years ago...for me the best way (but the most difficult) has to be to find a way of moving on ...rather than keep on going back ...looking for the acceptance and support that was never there....

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#11

Postby Pollyanna » Tue Mar 09, 2004 4:15 pm

Rex and flawedhuman, I agree with the you both and can identify with the difficulties expressed relating to family members. One way I found to help me is to make my "intimate" relationships outside the family. I do not mean sexual intimacy. I mean the deeply honest, sharing, trusting, revealing kind of relationships. When relating to family members, I hold back and put a professional distance between us. I am caring and affectionate - just not totally open with them. My precious jewels are reserved to be shared with people I have learned to trust.

Make any sense? I hope so. You all seem to write so articulately. I love this site and I care about all you who visit it. A GREAT BIG THANKS TO ALL.
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#12

Postby kfedouloff » Tue Mar 09, 2004 4:26 pm

It's too true, Pollyanna!

I am the middle big sister in my family! They won't let me forget it, either! But fortunately, most of us HAVE moved on, and in fact relations between me and the siblings are much better now than they used to be - I also notice that the balance has changed a lot - who is close to whom. As we all get older, it seems like an elaborate dance is being performed.

So glad you like the forum! Stick around!

Kathleen
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