summary: Beyond negative cognition and rumination can worsen symptoms of depression, researchers said.
Once you have symptoms of depression, it is easy to fall into a pattern in which the disorder is exacerbated by ruminative thinking.
One of the main issues is the so-called metacognition, a phrase that needs to be explained.
“Descriptive ideas — or metacognition — are the thoughts we think about the thoughts we think,” says Leif Edward Otesin Kinnear, professor in the Department of Psychology at NTNU and lead author of the current study.
Psychologist and first author Helen Pedersen at Helse Bergen HF explains, “Having ideas about our thinking that we are more or less aware of is very common.”
Thoughts about our thinking are not harmful in themselves. Positive thoughts about our thinking can lead us to think about topics we want to think about more often, and perhaps even have more fun. But this can deviate from some people.
The results of a new study on this topic were recently published in BMC Psychiatry.
Am I abnormal?
Beyond negative cognition, for example, we might think that depressive thinking is a sign of our damage, or we might think that our thinking is uncontrollable.
For some individuals, this ruminative thinking leads to thoughts that are difficult to get out of. These thoughts can quickly lead to a negative self-reinforcing pattern.
“It’s only a problem when we have a lot of those negative thoughts about our thinking, and we get into an unfortunate thinking pattern that’s hard to stop,” Pedersen says.
But Kinnear offers encouragement. “We’re not weak or damaged commodities, and knowing you can actually control brooding yourself can be done very quickly with metacognitive therapy.”
Fortunately, there are methods that can likely help. And you’re not alone either.
Girls are more at risk
Symptoms of depression and depression are common in young adults. Girls experience these symptoms more often than boys, and depression is also often diagnosed.
A new NTNU survey included nearly 1,200 people between the ages of 16 and 20. Girls and women scored higher on all counts, including depressive symptoms. They also scored higher in both positive metacognition, or thoughts that rumination is beneficial, and negative metacognition about their own thoughts. Girls and women meditate more in general.
Here we find clear differences between the sexes. But the reasons why some people get stuck in depressive thoughts are the same for both sexes.
“We found that the main causes of persistent depressive symptoms were negative meta-thoughts and overthinking, and this was true for both genders and regardless of age,” Kinnear says.
Metacognitive therapy can help
Getting better involves overcoming patterns, thoughts, and actions of self-reinforcement.
“We believe metacognitive therapy can be an effective treatment for depressive symptoms in young adults as well,” says Professor Kinnear.
Pedersen says metacognitive therapy focuses on changing what sustains depressive disorders: depressive thinking and negative thoughts about our thinking.
Negative thinking and metacognition can lead to and maintain depressive symptoms. So it may be helpful to focus on this to prevent depression,” says psychologist and co-author Ingrid Grunas.
“This treatment enables us to both help people who are already experiencing increased depressive symptoms and prevent others from developing such symptoms,” she says.
Metacognitive therapy is a new form of therapy developed by Adrian Wells at the University of Manchester, where the main goal is to stop negative thought processes and change metacognition around this anxiety and rumination.
About this research on depression news
original search: open access.
“Metacognition and thinking predict symptoms of depression in a sample of adolescents from the communityWritten by Helen Pedersen et al. BMC Psychiatry
Metacognition and thinking predict symptoms of depression in a sample of adolescents from the community
Depressive symptoms are more prevalent in adolescence, and girls have higher levels of depressive symptoms and depressive disorder than boys.
Rumination and especially meditation seem to be a factor in maintaining depressive symptoms, with metacognition about rumination playing a prominent role in maintaining depressive rumination. There is a gender difference in adults in depressive disorder.
The current survey of a secondary school/community sample of 16-20 year old adolescents from Norway (n= 1198, 62.2% of women) found that adolescent girls scored higher than men on all relevant measures: depressive symptoms, negative and positive metacognition, reasoning, and reasoning.
The pathway model for predicting depressive symptoms showed that the main factors for both genders were negative metacognition and reasoning. Predictors of depressive symptoms were consistent across gender and age groups, suggesting similar underlying mechanisms exist across these groups.
The overall results suggest that CBT may be an effective intervention for depressive symptoms among adolescents.