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March 5, 2010

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Analytic-rumination hypothesis

A client recently brought a very interesting New York time article to my attention, entitled Depression’s Upside.  The article considers the evolutionary significance of depression and suggests that depression has positive impacts on people.

A plaguing (but important) element of depression is rumination.  While many people’s experience of rumination is negative, Scientists Andrews and Thomson propose that the negative effects of rumination are what allows people to learn from past triggers of sadness.  They call this the analytic-rumination hypothesis.  Their hypothesis points out that people would learn from situations and events that made them sad if they didn’t ruminate about it.  The article states “If depression didn’t exist — if we didn’t react to stress and trauma with endless ruminations — then we would be less likely to solve our predicaments. Wisdom isn’t cheap, and we pay for it with pain.”

I am fascinated by the implications of this hypothesis and the positive angle it takes on pervasive negative thoughts.  This hypothesis may be integrated in a CBT fashion in helping clients realize the positive aspects of ruminating and help them move beyond it.

Check out the link to the article above for more information.  The article also looks at the effects rumination has on frontal lobe blood flow and attention difficulties.  Thank you to my clients who send me news articles!

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