Anxiety and Depression: Rumination

By: Lauren Zoneraich

Rumination is the cognitive process of repeating negative thoughts without completion, much to one’s distress. In the mind, the thoughts play like a broken record. Rumination can involve negative thoughts about the past or present, and the self. This form of cognition plays a key role in many psychological conditions, such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, alcohol abuse, OCD, PTSD, and eating disorders. Rumination is a passive process. One feels as if one cannot control repetitive, dominating thoughts. These distracting thought circles can last for long periods of time and disrupt work, school, and social life. Rumination is different than worry in that rumination involves negative thought content rather than thought content related to uncertainty. Worry usually is tied to the future, while ruminative thoughts are usually tied to the past or present. Rumination can impact physical health by increasing stress levels.In the context of depression, rumination usually involves negative self-assessments, such as feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness. These feelings can lead to anxious responses and further worsen one’s emotional state.

There are some intervention strategies to disrupt rumination. One way is to distract oneself with other activities, such as socializing or exercising. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a therapy approach that aims to change negative thought patterns. Patients learn to recognize their distortions, irrational thoughts, and negative thoughts. Once they recognize these thoughts, patients reframe negative thoughts and assess the irrationality of their thoughts. Patients also learn methods to calm their mind and body through breathing exercises and thinking of things they associate with feeling calm and peaceful. Patients are also encouraged to think of action plans to address their negative thoughts.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression, or is seeking Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for rumination, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2012). Rumination: relationships with physical health. Innovations in clinical neuroscience9(2), 29–34.

Image Source:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s