Why do people remain vulnerable to depression ?
New research shows that during any
episode of depression, negative mood occurs alongside negative
thinking (such as 'I am a failure', 'I am inadequate', 'I am
worthless') and bodily sensations of sluggishness and fatigue. When
the episode has passed, and the mood has returned to normal, the
negative thinking and fatigue tend to disappear as well. However,
during the episode, a connection has formed between the moods that
were present at that time and the negative thinking patterns.
This means that when negative mood happens again
(for any reason), a relatively small amount of such mood can trigger
or reactivate the old thinking pattern. Once again, people start to
think they have failed, or are inadequate, even if it is not
relevant to the current situation. People who believed they had
recovered may find themselves feeling 'back to square one'. They end
up inside a rumination loop that constantly asks 'what has gone
wrong?', 'why is this happening to me?', 'where will it all end?'
Such rumination feels as if it ought to help find an answer, but it
only succeeds in prolonging and deepening the mood spiral. When this
happens, the old habits of negative thinking will start up again,
getting into the same rut, and a full-blown episode of depression
may be the result.
The discovery that the link between negative
moods and negative thoughts remains ready to be re-activated, even
when people feel well, is of enormous importance. It means that
sustaining recovery from such depression depends on learning how to
keep mild states of depression from spiralling out of control.