What Turns Wandering Thoughts into Something Worse?

Oct. 13, 2021 — With all of the lockdowns and social distancing of the pandemic, folks have had quite a lot of time to themselves over the previous 12 months and a half. Whereas some could have stuffed their time with bread baking or lengthy walks, others could have felt that they had an excessive amount of time to themselves, an excessive amount of time to assume.

These experiences got here with extra depression and anxiety, which might be linked to the identical brain community that’s thought to assist a meandering thoughts, referred to as the default mode community.

Scientists on this community needed to grasp how wandering ideas can lead some folks to a state of brooding wherein the identical destructive ideas resurface repeatedly. To realize some perception into these patterns, they recorded greater than 2,000 ideas spoken aloud by 78 examine contributors who did nothing however let their minds wander for 10 minutes.

Senior researcher Jessica Andrews‐Hanna, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology on the College of Arizona in Tucson, and her colleagues hoped that analyzing these stream-of-consciousness ideas might yield insights into how folks grow to be caught in destructive psychological spirals.

They discovered that the majority contributors thought in regards to the current or future in phrases that have been neither significantly destructive nor constructive. Virtually three-quarters of the ideas have been centered inward on the particular person or have been imaginative.

Negativity Breeds Negativity

However the investigators discovered an fascinating sample with destructive ideas. The extra destructive somebody’s ideas turned, the extra possible that their subsequent concept can be associated to their earlier one. In different phrases, destructive ideas created a sequence response of extra destructive ideas.

Constructive ideas, in distinction, tended to be adopted by fully unrelated ruminations, indicating true psychological meandering. The sample instructed that negativity tends to slim the vary of ideas, whereas positivity tends to increase it in periods wherein the thoughts wanders.

The researchers additionally discovered — maybe unsurprisingly — that destructive ideas that have been centered on the self and on the previous have been extra prone to lead to brooding, whereas constructive ideas have been much less prone to come up.

It’s essential to notice that the majority examine contributors have been younger and educated and will have solely stated issues that they have been comfy with the researchers listening to. And since the authors did not ask contributors about their moods, the investigators couldn’t affiliate particular patterns of thought with any mental health circumstances.

Though the findings, published in Scientific Reviews, don’t on their very own level to options for depression or anxiety, they might supply a place to begin for future analysis into how destructive trains of ideas start — and maybe methods to derail them.

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