Wanting Answers That Don’t Exist Fuels Depression


When feeling depressed it can seem as if our mind has a mind of its own, that we have lost control over our thoughts.

We may ruminate about an issue in a plodding, heavy manner, or our thoughts may run in circles, and we seem powerless to stop them.

One thing that does help is to question the validity or purpose of our thought process. Doing this seldom disperses clouds of depressive symptoms, but it can part the clouds just enough to provide relief.

For instance, you might ask, “Am I looking for answers where there are none?”

Knowing the Limits of Thinking

Wanting to understand things is part of human nature, yet some questions will never yield concrete or definitive answers. We can dwell on these issues until hippos fly, and the only result will be making ourself frustrated, depressed, sad, or anxious.

The interesting thing is, until we consciously question whether our thinking serves a purpose, we will continue ruminating and brooding as if it can help—even when it cannot.

We might dwell, for example, on our depression, and wonder if we will ever feel good again, or when that might be? It is a normal thing to wonder about, but thinking about it will never yield an answer. Realizing our train of thought is useless gives our one-track mind cause to pause, slow down, or stop. Our thinking mind can recognize its limitations.

Maybe we are brooding about why our boy or girlfriend left us, what we might have done wrong. The difficulty with wanting answers about complex relationships is that one answer often sparks more questions. Unless there was an obvious reason why he or she left, such as you dated someone else, the reasons may always be numerous and fuzzy. Thinking about it continuously will never make it simpler or clearer, but it will muddy your mood.

The Intuitive Alternative

Many things we dwell on cannot be answered by thinking, but are sometimes answered when we stop thinking. Solutions can occur to us “out of the blue” when we quit trying to figure things out. Most people call this kind of knowing intuition.

Even depressed individuals can be intuitive, but not when they are ruminating or thinking in circles. Intuition is helped by exploring a question or situation, wondering about it, considering it, and then being open to the possibility of an answer arriving in its own time—or of living with the question.

Photo credit: Maddie Photography / flickr


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