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Depression, obsession and rumination

I once heard a guy say that he tries to wear his life like a comfortable old t-shirt. I like that and I’ve been trying to do it lately but I think I must have shrunk that t-shirt in the dryer because it’s tight as hell right now.

shutterstock_194610269From the outside you might not notice that my comfy t-shirt has morphed into a corset. But from the inside, it feels like it has. I’m carrying around this intensity right now – for work, for working-out and even for finishing the entire seven-season series Sons of Anarchy.

I am driven. I can’t seem to slow down my thoughts. One thought leads to another and another and another. It makes me good at what I do – newspaper reporting – but it’s not good for my mental health. It’s a constant tugging – intellectually I want to slow down – instinctually I want to speed up.

One thing I have been taught in my years of recovery from depression and alcoholism is to think things through. Don’t just act. Pause. Think it through. Pray. Talk to someone. Then take some action.

This is really good advice. But right now, seems I’m stuck in the “think it through” phase, which in the clinical world is called “rumination.” You can’t tell by looking at someone that they’re ruminating. You might think they’re just day-dreaming.

The problem with ruminating is you must do it alone. You can’t ruminate with other people. Most people will think you’re nuts if you start ruminating out loud. Verbal ruminating sounds like obsession. So, most of us just keep it in our head, which is where it simmers…and simmers…and simmers.

Rumination can be a precursor to depression. No one ruminates the good things in life. You ruminate over bad things – stuff that has happened that makes you anxious, angry or sad. Ruminate long enough and you will get stuck in those feelings. Then, you become smothered in anxiety, anger or sadness.

Bam! You’re depressed. It may just be dysthymia – the lite-beer version of depression – but it doesn’t feel good.

And I really want to feel good right now.

Thinking man image available from Shutterstock.





Depression, obsession and rumination

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2015). Depression, obsession and rumination. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Feb 2015
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