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What Helps Me When I'm Stuck in Rumination as a Man With Depression

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You know what it is — holding onto a thought over and over and over. And over. I do it. And it is one of the contributing factors in my depression and anxiety. In an attempt to learn more about it, I wondered if men and women ruminate differently. Turns out we do.

I came across a report in LiveScience, “The 7 Ways Depression Differs in Men and Women.” The author discusses various ways that men and women express their depression differently. Here are the seven ways  that depression works differently with men and women:

  1. Women are more likely to ruminate when feeling depressed.
  2. Men with depression are more likely to abuse alcohol and other substances.
  3. Women may respond differently to stressful life events.
  4. Men’s symptoms of depression may be harder for others to recognize.
  5. Women are more likely than men to have depression and a co-existing eating disorder.
  6. Men and women might respond differently to antidepressants.
  7. Men are more likely to commit suicide.

Men tend to act out our rumination with substance use, rather than think over and over about how they are feeling. For many men, our rumination can end up becoming self-destructive due to the erosion that substance use can have on our most important supports. Women do ruminate slightly more than men, but both men and women will engage in brooding and negative reflection when they are depressed, according to a review published by the NCBI.

If you ruminate, there are things you can do to help yourself. I found one article with “8 Tips to Help Stop Rumination.” The article is helpful because it goes beyond the usual “stay busy” advice.

My most important recommendations for rumination:

a) Exercise – this serves several purposes. When we exercise, we engage our bodies in physical exertion which becomes our focus. Our brains release chemicals which can affect our moods.

b) Give your mind something positive to think about rather than letting it be a “free-range” mind – read, have positive quotes or goals and stop regularly (ie: once an hour) to briefly review them.

c) Be with people – much of rumination happens when we are alone. You and I can spend too much time isolated and this contributes to our rumination.

d) Practice gratitude – this can include a gratitude list, or just saying “Thank you” and “I appreciate you” more often.

e) Talk to a counsellor if you need to – counsellors are professionals who can help and know what it takes to change.

Today, I hope you ruminate well and think about the things that are good for you, and good inside of you. It is continual work that will pay you back with a better quality of life.

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Keep it Real

This piece was originally published on smswaby.

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Originally published: October 17, 2016
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