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Rumination syndrome


Rumination syndrome

BBC’s Lab UK and the University of Liverpool have undertaken the biggest online test into stress, according to which it has concluded that rumination is one of the biggest signs behind most common mental health issues in the country.

A little self-reflection can prove a good thing for a person, but the contemplation of negative situations all the time is not right. Sometimes introspection goes far beyond limit, and thoughts get stuck on repeat.

Professionals believe that self-blame and rumination are some causes leading to rumination, health anxiety, and depression. These are the two most common problems in the UK, according to the Mental Health Foundation. But these problems can have very serious impacts on mental health.

Rumination is basically a thought processing disorder, which means that some negative or even general thoughts are over-analyzed by the ruminating person. Sometimes, a person can stop these recycling thoughts and move on with other things, but in severe cases, they can’t get rid of these thoughts. In this article, I am going to talk about it, how to beat rumination, and what is a possible treatment.

What is rumination?

Merriam-Webster defines rumination syndrome thoughts as follows:

“Obsessive thinking about an idea, situation, or choice especially when it interferes with normal mental functioning.”

The word rumination belongs to the Latin term for chewing cud, like how cows eat their food. Rumination in humans is based on the same concept where we are not talking about cyclic digestion but a cyclic repetition of thoughts. Another rumination syndrome is linked with digestion where people unintentionally or repeatedly regurgitate partially digested or undigested food. It is not like actual vomit as food is not digested completely, which can be called rumination vomiting.

Rumination is just like an old record keeps playing the same lyrics on repeat. Old arguments with your friend or some past mistakes are stuck in your mind. Rumination is all about overthinking about these situations. Several researches have shown that rumination is linked with various negative results, including anxiety, depression, binge-drinking or eating, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

There are about three different forms of rumination syndrome:

State rumination: it involves residing in feelings associated with failure and negative consequences. State rumination is very common in especially those who are neurotic, pessimistic, and have negative attributional styles.

Action rumination: it involves task-oriented thoughts mainly focused on the correction of mistakes and goal achievement.

Task-irrelevant rumination: it utilizes people or events unassociated with a blocked goal for a distraction from failure.

Rumination overthinking

Rumination and overthinking are interlinked. Overthinking means over-analyzing a situation and focusing on negative outcomes; on the other hand, rumination is all about repeating these negative thoughts in mind. Rumination overthinking never brings positive results in life. It makes you depressed, and it does affect not only your career but also your relationships.

Rumination depression

Commonly rumination is associated with depression. Research by Dr. Suma Chand shows that people experiencing rumination are more likely to fall into depression than others. Another rumination depression research done by Yale psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD, has also shown similar results.

Another survey of 1300 adults (25-7 years of age) done by Nolen-Hoeksema has shown that ruminators are four times more likely to experience major depression. Rumination depression makes ruminators stay depressed for a long time because of all the negative thoughts. It is harder for them to find positive things in life. They can’t deal with these thoughts even when there is a positive solution.

Rumination and worry

Rumination and worry both are negative thinking forms. These involve a predominance of negative verbal thoughts and can be associated with inner-speech negatively. But there is a huge difference between these two terms. Worry is all about concerning possible threats in the future and plans to deal with them; on the other hand, rumination is all about thinking negative things happened in the past.

The main difference between rumination and worry is that worry is associated with danger; on the other hand, rumination is associated with loss, failure, and hopelessness. In addition to this, rumination occurs in the context of disappointment, sadness, and depression; worrying is often linked with anxious symptoms, for instance, inability to relax, tension, or feeling dread.

But both these conditions, if they become severe, they can intensify the emotional suffering of a person. So it is really important to deal with these conditions in time. Both of these conditions play an important role in developing most types of psychological disorders.

Rumination thoughts

Ruminating thoughts are intrusive and excessive thoughts about feelings and past experiences. A person who has a history of trauma may be unable to stop thinking about it. A lot of mental health conditions may involve ruminating thoughts. A failed relationship can also lead to ruminating thoughts.

People experience ruminating thoughts often, especially when they feel worried or sad. A person may ruminate on his fear about a job interview, test, or medical appointment. It can also be because of a negative childhood experience or ruminating anxiety, which makes it difficult to deal with negative thoughts.

Here are some possible triggers of Ruminating thoughts:

  • Failed relationships
  • Perfectionism
  • Recent traumatic situations
  • Low self-confidence
  • Fears and phobias
  • Severe stress or physical illness

Rumination OCD

Anyone can experience Rumination OCD irrespective of their gender age, and one can experience it quite differently from others. Rumination is a key feature of OCD that can cause a person to spend a lot of time worrying about a particular thought in analyzing and understanding it. Rumination can occur in subtypes of OCD, where a person spends a lot of time thinking about their obsessions.

Obsessive rumination disorder

Obsessive rumination disorder can cause several that vary from person to person. A person can experience OCD symptoms involving several themes and OCD subtypes, as mentioned above. It is not unique for a person to experience new OCD obsessions suddenly. These might include

  • Obsessive thoughts about cleanliness
  • Fear of harming someone
  • Disturbing and weird thoughts about inappropriate sexual actions
  • Severe thoughts about constant perfection
  • Existential or philosophical obsessions

You may also notice some compulsive behaviors that commonly occur in Obsessive rumination disorder. These may include:

  • Going through a checklist for ensuring cleanliness in your mind constantly
  • Constantly making sure someone didn’t get hurt because of you
  • Avoiding certain people or place so that you may not get triggered
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about the past and memories
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about existential or philosophical topics

When a person spends a lot of time thinking about these weird obsessions, it can badly affect their life, and they cannot complete some of their very important tasks and day to day activities. A person may get so much involved in these intrusive thoughts that he withdraws from his relationships and other responsibilities in life, for instance, work, family, etc.

How to get over rumination OCD

Getting over Rumination OCD on your own is not possible at all. For every kind of OCD, you need to seek mental health treatment from a professional specializing in OCD.  OCD specialists are particularly equipped and trained for treating subtypes of OCD, including this special and significant subtype of rumination.

How to get over rumination OCD? All kinds of OCDs can be dealt with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), especially with approaches called Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP).

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: In Mindful-Based CBT, patients learn that every person experiences ruminating thoughts. They will also learn that these thoughts don’t have any power over us. They learn that compulsive behaviors only strengthen their fears and thoughts. Mindfulness can help them in moving on from these intrusive thoughts. This treatment is even more effective when combined with ERP.

Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP): In this treatment, a person is exposed to the situation related to their intrusive thoughts responsible for rumination health anxiety. The main goal of this treatment is to prevent the patient from completing compulsive behaviors. Situations a person is exposed to will intensify with time until a person  can overcome the most feared situation. Once they can stop responding to these intrusive thoughts with their compulsive behavior, there is a relief for them from OCD symptoms. It is an excellent solution regarding how to get over rumination OCD.

Rumination about ex

Relationships are very important in our lives. We all wish to have long-lasting and forever type love relationships. But we are not always lucky. Breakups are a part of life, but the important thing is how we deal with these breakups. Fortunately, it is easy to move on; on the other hand, for most of us, rumination about ex becomes fate. Sometimes we don’t even realize it. There can be several reasons behind this. If you know why there is a rumination about an ex, it will become easier for you to deal with it. Let me share some reason with you, and then you can pinpoint the real cause and deal with it:

Right now, you are lonely.

You are not getting over your ex and constantly thinking about him/her; it means you are lonely. It is normal that you want to be alone after a breakup, but it can lead to ruminating, which can then cause mental health problems.

You stalk them on social media.

This is another reason that you are ruminating about your ex. you stalk them all day, want to know whether they are happy without you or not, whether they found someone else. It is really not a good idea to handle the breakup this way; you won’t be able to get over them.

You lost confidence

You were in a toxic relationship, and the person was really bad for you, and as a result, you lost your confidence. It happens in relationships; that’s why these things end. But it is not a solution if you really want to move on.

You don’t know how to let go.

If you want to relieve yourself, letting go is the most important thing in dealing with rumination syndrome. You don’t know how to let it go, maybe because you were badly hurt or in a toxic relationship. But if you want to move on, you need to accept that people make mistakes, but these are now in the past, so you have to let them go and move forward.

You have regrets

Sometimes everything is right, but suddenly something happens, and the relationship is over. You have regrets, and you keep thinking about what if you  may have tried a little more, what if you had not said that. But you need to keep in mind what is done is done. If you two had wanted the same things, you would be together and if it is meant to be you will resolve it later down the line.

How to stop ruminating on the past

Rumination will keep you stuck in the past, and is unhealthy. So how to stop ruminating on the past? Well, dealing with it is not that easy. But if you know how it destroys your life and makes things difficult and eats you up, you may try to find a way to get rid of it. Let’s discuss some of the effects of getting stuck in rumination overthinking.

Problems remain problems

Overthinking a problem will never solve them. You will be stuck inside your problem and will not be able to come up with a positive solution until you stop thinking about them.

The situation will become worse.

When you overthink a situation, again and again, it will become only worse. You will just waste your time and energy on it, and there will be no positive results.

You keep on worrying.

You will keep on worrying about the problem and will only think about negative outcomes. It will also affect your creative problem-solving skills.

Horror stories

Overthinking about a problem means you are fabricating it yourself. You don’t try to solve it but keep stuck in “what if” horror stories.

Heightened negative emotions

Ruminating will only heighten negative emotions like jealousy, doubt, confusion, resentment, indecision, anger, etc. It will take your loved ones away from you, and instead of solving your problems, you have to deal with major depression.

Now you know how bad it is to ruminate about your past, let’s focus on how to stop ruminating on the past so that you can get rid of these negative emotions.

How to get over rumination

Once you are stuck in a repeating cycle of negative thoughts, it is tough to get out of it. It is necessary to get rid of these negative thoughts as soon as possible. Initially, it is easy to handle, but if things get worse, it is even more difficult. If you are wondering how to get over rumination, you are in the right place. Let me share some tips with you:

Being mindful can help

Ruminate patterns can affect your thoughts, and you may get indulged in them, but you need to step back from it and figure out the matter and tackle the root cause. Studies show that mindfulness can reduce negative thoughts. Asking yourself questions like what I am thinking or how I am feeling can help you a lot.

Relax yourself

Taking a break from regular activities and taking deep breaths can prove helpful. This way, you can clearly think about your behavior in life. And you can bring change in your thoughts process.


If you are wondering how to get over rumination? This is the best you can do. Self-acceptance helps you in moving on from negative thoughts that are stuck in your mind. This is an excellent way of healthy grieving. You need to accept that there is a problem, and then you can work on it.

Be grateful

Think about what you have achieved so far and be grateful. Obviously, we cannot have it all. We should be grateful and happy with what we have; this way, we can boost our confidence. It will help in dealing with rumination syndrome.

Meditation helps a lot.

Meditation is the best tool for rumination. Before you dive into the deep sea of negative thoughts, first clear your mind. Spend a few minutes in meditation daily. So clear your mind, connect your body with your soul, and relax.

Reflection on past events

Another important tool that will help you with rumination is journaling. Writing journals regularly helps you get in touch with yourself, and you can understand your thoughts better. You can have a reflection on past events in a very effective way.

Rumination treatment

Rumination treatment focuses on redirecting the whole thought process and improving coping skills. It is a case of finding a better way to address ruminating anxiety and depression. Professionals have designed various strategies for treating Rumination based on the severity of the condition and associated mental health conditions. Here are some possible rumination treatment strategies:

Rumination-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (RFCBT)

RFCBT is a special psychobehavioral therapy targeting rumination. As compared to cognitive behavioral therapy in RFCBT is for those who are not getting benefits from current counseling or therapy. The main goal of RFCBT is to develop effective strategies for promoting specific thinking and concentrate by modifying thought processes. It is very effective and has brought 100% results for those who had mild rumination scores.

Mindful exercises

Mindful exercises are very helpful in rumination. The first step towards treatment is to identify and accept that something bad has happened. When you face the truth, it becomes easy to solve negative thoughts. You learn how to be thankful for good things that happened in life and how to have self-control. Yoga, walk, and other relaxation exercises help deal with rumination and have a positive reflection on past events.


Medication is not recommended in early stages to deal with mental problems as these can be handled better with the help of therapies. But in some cases, medications, in addition to therapy, become necessary to treat severe emotional and physical symptoms. Doctors may prescribe some medication when rumination syndrome is really bad. Here are some medications recommended by doctors for rumination. But this does not mean you can take them on your own as some of them have side effects too. You cannot take them without the recommendation of a doctor

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) — It reduces anxiety and improves mood, the exact mechanism is not known, but it maintains healthy levels of serotonin. Paxil and Prozac are some common examples.

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) — These work best against anxiety, panic disorder, and depression but not for an obsessive-compulsive disorder

Benzodiazepines — These are prescribed combined with other anxiety medications. These help deal with rumination for the short term.


Rumination means contemplation of negative situations and the mind keeps thinking about negative outcomes. It can ruin your career, relationships, and whole life if not dealt with in time. So how to how to beat rumination? The tips shared above can prove helpful in dealing with rumination, but that is not enough. Talking to a professional is really important so that he can suggest some therapy and if need, some medication. I hope so this article will prove helpful for you. Call 03333443853 and have a free consultation with one of our team members now.

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