New Year’s Blues
Does the end of the year get you down?
Ruminators and the New Year’s Blues
If you find yourself assessing and reassessing the year, becoming more and
more depressed, you may be a ruminator. Women are more likely than men to have
this habit, Nolen-Hoeksema says.
In her research, Nolen-Hoeksema has focused on "ruminators." She
describes ruminators as those who go over and over their problems, either in
their own mind or by discussing them with others, but have no clear plan to
solve the issues. She has found:
- Those who ruminate also tend to have negative coping styles, criticize
themselves unduly and be pessimistic. Ruminating and depression often go
- Recognizing when to stop ruminating is crucial. "Everyone ruminates
some," she says. The real difficulty arises, she says, when you realize all
the thinking and rethinking about a problem or issue is not getting you
anywhere or is making you feel worse -- and still, you can't quit. "People
who get stuck in rumination think there is going to be insight by keeping on
thinking about it," she says. "They may have more trouble [than others]
shifting their attention [to other topics]."
- Depression can make ruminating worse. If you are already in a depressed
mood and get started on a rumination cycle, you'll tend to focus on the worst
aspects of a problem, she says. "Rumination and depression are a toxic
mix." The rumination feeds the depression and vice versa. The process
is so reciprocal, says Nolen-Hoeksema, that it's difficult to identify
sometimes which started it all.