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The Windmills of Your Mind

The brain is a phenomenal problem-solving machine. It will work on problems even when you aren’t aware that this is happening. How many times have you experienced an idea popping into your mind that provides a perfect answer to a problem you have been wrestling with. Our subconscious mind constantly churns over problems. It even does this when we are asleep.

Unfortunately, this incredible problem-solving ability has an unfortunate consequence when we become depressed. When we become depressed, our mind whirrs away on trying to ‘solve’ the problem of depression. We go over all of the questions, such as, “What is wrong with me?”, “How can I get out of this trap” and so on. The problem with this is two-fold. Firstly, the brain starts to sprinkle in a lot of negative judgments, such as, “Why am I so useless?”, and, “Why am I so pathetic?” Secondly, and this is the killer, many of these questions don’t have answers. So, the brain literally gets stuck, spinning around and around, trying to solve a problem that can’t be solved. Psychologists call this rumination. And rumination is rocket-fuel for depression.

Noticing your mind ruminating is half the battle in finding a way out of depression. Once you spot yourself ruminating, you can thank your brain for trying to help and then decide to re-focus your attention on taking small steps towards doing things. At the end of the day no-one ‘thinks’ their way out of depression. They have to ‘work’ their way out of it, (although it’s really important to remember to do enjoyable things and not just jobs and chores). Less ‘thinking’ and more ‘doing’ is a challenge. It’s not easy, and professional help may be required. But overall, the ‘taking action’ route is the way to go.

For NHS funded therapy for anger, anxiety or depression, phone (01208) 871905 or self refer online [HERE

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