Can’t make up your mind? Indecision, rumination and depression.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Hard to choose?

Indecision, rumination, and depression.

If you can’t make up your mind it may be because you are depressed. Indecision is a common result of depression and certain types of rumination ramp this symptom up.

When you are depressed it becomes incredibly difficult to decide. Even a little depression can make decisions difficult and a significant level of depression can make decision-making impossible. How you are thinking about things, especially rumination, makes this indecision worse.

Depression impairs decision-making.

Depressed people tend to rely on others to make their decisions for them. If you find you don’t trust yourself to make a decision and you expect someone else to decide for you, it is time to take a look at this.

Depressed people tend to brood about things, turn them over and over in their head. The thinking part bogs down. The tendency is to look for global abstract reasons. What is wrong with me? Why does this keep happening to me? What you need to be asking yourself is, how you are going to get this done.

Depressed people stop trusting themselves. They do not use their intuition; that gut level information based on experience. When depressed do you stop trusting your judgment and start over-thinking everything?

Many of the symptoms of depression involve reduced ability to make decisions. When depressed there is less rational reasoning coupled with low activity levels. Can’t do and can’t decide defines depression. There is also less information gathering going on. The result of all this avoiding making decisions and self-doubt is an increase in negative emotions. Increasing negative emotions creates more severe depression and so the cycle goes.

Indecision and low self-esteem.

Indecisiveness has been linked to low self-esteem. Can’t decide you feel bad about yourself. Feel bad about yourself you will find it hard to decide. The result if indecision is more procrastination. One culprit in this indecision, low self-esteem connection is that ancient enemy perfectionism.

Perfectionists have trouble deciding.

If you are one of those people who are trying to be perfect, a largely neurotic trait, you will never make it. The search for the perfect prevents what can be.

This human fallacy, the search for abstract universal answers, leads to the wrong conclusions. It is not “why do bad things happen to me” or anyone else. The questions you should be asking is what are you going to do now and how will you do it.

We should note here that researchers have concluded that not having a good vocabulary to describe what and how you are feeling can result in an increased risk of depression. You need to have words for the feelings to begin to work on the consequences.

Rumination does more than result in an increased risk of depression and more difficulty making decisions. Depressed people who do decide are less committed and more likely to have difficulty following through on the course of action they have decided on.

The solution to all this indecision, rumination, depression, resulting in more indecision trap?

Gather all the information you can. Make the best decision you can and then stick with it until contrary information comes in. Stop looking for global reasons and look for the facts in this specific instance.

If indecision is plaguing you or you feel like simple decisions are beyond your ability consider getting some professional help.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Emotional Avalanches and Feelings Landslides

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Do your emotions sometimes just sweep you away?

Emotional avalanches. 
Photo courtesy of pixabay.

Everyone has ups and downs in life. There are times you are up and times you are down. Those ups and downs can come slowly or they can come quickly. For some people, those changes in their emotional landscape suddenly and unexpectedly sweep them away. There may be things you are doing that are triggering these emotional avalanches.

In your journey of life, there may be times when the trip is mostly uphill; things go as planned and in a positive direction. People who seem to be able to keep their emotional journeys on an even keel have that ability to regulate their emotions and keep them in bounds. Not everyone has that option.

If you travel in emotionally rough territory you may have a lot more ups and downs. The key in those times is to keep your eye on the distant goal, pace yourself and not let those trips downhill define your whole journey. The more the ups and downs in life, the steeper the emotional terrain, the faster those emotions may come at you. To surmount tough emotional terrain you need to have your climbing skills well perfected. Sometimes those emotional regulations skills just are not enough.

If your emotional life is mostly flat terrain, relatively few ups and downs, a professional might think of you as having or experiencing good emotional regulation. Some people seem to be able to find the flattest path through life even in hilly terrain.

If your emotional journey has more than the expected ups and downs we professionals might think of this as you having high emotional liability. Your emotions shift in repose to things that happen and the faster things happen in your life the faster your mood shifts.

Please do not jump to the conclusion that people who are emotionally very labile have Bipolar Disorder. While people with Bipolar disorder do experience times of mood shifts, I think of their mood shifts as less related to the life events, the emotionally hilly terrain, and more related to an internal journey.

Lots of people have emotional ups and downs; some of them out of control, and these people do not all have Bipolar disorder.

Some people are just walking along and out of nowhere, so it appears, the emotional ground falls out from under them.

One cause of these emotional avalanches is a human habit called rumination. All humans think about the things that they have done and the things that have happened in the past. The way in which you think about these things is what determines the result of this rethinking. In other posts, I have and will talk more about the ways in which rumination can destroy your emotional health, create or increase depression or anxiety.

In an emotional avalanche, the person begins to think about something and that thought begins to grow the more they think about it. There may have been a trigger that brought the thought into their mind or a random memory may have been the trigger.

We suspect that those who do non-suicidal self-injury, cutting for short, are particularly prone to these emotional landslides. Once the thought occurs, any negative self-evaluative thought will do here, it becomes increasingly difficult to stop that emotional mountain from falling on you.

These emotional landslides are the cause of lots of sudden impulsive behaviors. Can’t get that thought out of your head? You might choose to drink over it. Someone else might cut on an arm or leg to distract themselves from that thought. This inability to stop the thought avalanche once it starts explains a lot of impulsive behavior better than either long-term anxiety or depression.

Being sad and then beginning to brood (ruminate) over that sadness is a strong predictor of emotional avalanches. Productive thought about past events is about how can I change that, what will I do next. Unproductive rumination is about why me and how could this happen to me.

Believing that a past stress or trauma means there is something wrong with you leads to global beliefs about yourself. That you will never be better and things can’t change. Asking how you will get past this results and create a desire to learn the skills you will need to be successful in life.

If you find that sometimes out of nowhere your emotions carry you away in a bad way, take another look at your thinking process and see if you have developed the habit of ruminating, thinking about something bad in your life over and over. Make sure you do not spend time with friends in group rumination. Having a support system can be helpful, hanging out with a group of co-ruminators can really bring you down.

You might want to check out the other posts on counselorssoapbox about rumination. There are more posts on this topic to come.

If you experience emotional avalanches that are causing you problems consider seeing a professional counselor or therapist for help. It is not “just you” and you can learn ways to have a happy productive life.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

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Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Is Rumination Chewing up your mental health?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

rumination

Rumination.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

What is Rumination and why is rumination destroying your mental wellness?

Rumination, that habit of turning things over and over in your mind, has a lot of impact on your mental health. The more we learn about rumination the more seriously we find it is affecting people’s mental health.

Various authors have suggested alternative definitions for rumination as applied to mental health. Rumination means, to me, that something is bothering you and you keep turning that thing over and over in your mind. Reynolds (2014) describes rumination as a “maladaptive form of self-reflection.”

In rumination the focus is on yourself, judging yourself and how you reacted to the event, rather than in learning from those events. For the ruminator, if things went wrong this must mean that you are bad, people treated you badly or that this is the result of some personal weakness that will continue to hold you back.

Casey Truffo refers to this as “chewing on the thing that is eating you.” The result is that rather than finding a solution to your problem or moving forward, you stay stuck in your upset over these things.

Excess rumination has been linked to depression, anxiety, stress and other mental illnesses.

Thinking about the past and the future can be helpful. This review of life can aid us in recognizing errors and learning from experience. It can also be part of planning for the future. What goes wrong in ruminating is that the focus shifts from the facts, this is what did or may happen, to looking at the feelings. I could not stand it if this or that happened. Or you may be saying this is too painful to bear, is not fair and so on.

Rumination is about judging the rightness and wrongness of things. It involves beliefs that things will not be well and looking for who to blame. Most often this involves beliefs that the reason something bad happened is because you did something “wrong.” Ruminating about the future includes beliefs that you are powerless and helpless if things happen that you do not foresee and can’t control.

This pattern of ruminating on the past and certain negative possible futures seems to me to also be involved in maintaining and aggravating the adjustment and stress-related disorders. Intrusive thoughts become worse the more you focus on them. Looking for possible crises can result in being overwhelmed and living in a world full of crises.

There is a strong connection between ruminating and alcohol abuse. Ruminators are most likely to binge drink in response to their negative self-thoughts. Those who are frequent Ruminators are also more likely to have anger management problems.

Ruminating is also an aggravating factor in eating disorders and is hugely connected with non-suicidal self-injury. Rumination can damage relationships and is related to adult attachment style issues.

Dwelling on your negative thoughts, your reviewing of past failures keeps you stuck.

Rumination has been linked to negative automatic thoughts. Think negative thoughts often enough and those thoughts are practiced to the point of becoming automatic. Practice thinking that everything is wrong, awful and horrible, and will always be that way, and you have created a negative destiny.

Rumination is that annoying advertising jingle that keeps playing in your head. Think about those negative thoughts enough and they may be stuck in there forever.

Ruminating about the past cranks up the depression feelings.

The questions most often asked by ruminators are “Why?” and “What if?” Continuing to think about why did this happen, it should not have happened, it is horrible, awful, that this happened, results in ever-increasing feelings of sadness and depression.

Ruminating about the future is a major cause of Anxiety Disorders.

Repeated thoughts of what if? Rehearsing all the possible things that could go wrong, is a good way to anxious yourself up.

The belief that you “should” ruminate, that repeatedly turning over these past experiences or future possibilities are necessary, maintains the rumination and results in ever-increasing spirals of negative emotions. Your own belief that you need to figure this out keeps you stuck. Some things can’t be figured out or do not need to be analyzed. Dwelling on your negative thoughts, your reviewing of past failures keeps you trapped. Acceptance rather than rumination may be the best option.

Co-rumination.

Some ruminators bring others in on their rumination process. The term co-rumination has been coined to refer to times when a relationship between two people exists primarily so they can both ruminate together about each other’s problems. Spend all your time ruminating and others in your life either have to join in the negative thought game or find a way to escape the negativity. Ruminating may drive family and friends away. Those who are left will be as negative as you.

How this is like and how it is different from therapy will be a part of a future post on co-rumination.

Do you ruminate? Are you stuck on turning those thoughts of past mistakes over and over in your head? Now is the time to break the rumination cycle and start a new happy and mentally healthy life.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.