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  • Dr. David C. Maynard

Stop Overthinking Everything: Ways to Cope

A silent battle is being fought. Depression is a growing concern that affects countless individuals and families. This mental health condition often manifests through overthinking, leading to a cycle of negative thoughts that can be difficult to stop. Many times, it doesn't seem coping strategies always work, and overthinking takes a toll on many areas of life, including career, personal relationships, and education. It can lead to thoughts and feelings that no one cares, that one is all alone, and become stuck on rehashing over and over perceived threats. But there is hope. It doesn't have to be that way.

Understanding Overthinking

Overthinking is a common symptom of depression. It involves dwelling excessively on past mistakes, future uncertainties, or current issues to the point where it interferes with daily life. Overthinkers often find themselves stuck in a loop of negative thoughts and worst-case scenarios.

Overthinking can be categorized into two main types: ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. Both types can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression if left unchecked.

The Connection Between Overthinking and Depression

Depression is more than just feeling sad or down for a few days; it's a serious mental health condition that affects how you feel, think, and handle daily activities. One of the most common symptoms of depression is overthinking or rumination.

Rumination refers to the tendency to repetitively think about the causes, situational factors, and consequences of one's negative emotional experience. Essentially, when people ruminate, they are "dwelling" on their depression rather than doing something productive to improve their mood.

Research shows that there's a strong link between overthinking and depression. People who tend to overthink not only have higher chances of developing depressive disorders but also have a harder time recovering from them because they tend to dwell on their problems instead of seeking solutions.

Depression is an issue that hits close to home for many residents in Lexington, KY. According to recent studies by Mental Health America, Kentucky ranks 8th out of 50 states in terms of experiencing a major depressive episode in the past year.

In Kentucky, depression is a significant concern. Many residents struggle with feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed. The stigma surrounding mental health often prevents people from seeking help or even acknowledging their struggles.

Breaking the Cycle: Overcoming Overthinking and Depression

Overthinking can be a challenging habit to break, especially when it's tied to depression. However, there are several strategies that can help manage this symptom and improve overall mental well-being:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This form of therapy helps individuals identify the causes of overthinking and negative thought patterns, and develop healthier responses to stressors. Negative thoughts can be prompted by internal or external stimuli. An example of an internal stimulus is thinking this ache or that pain must mean cancer. An example of an external stimulus could be seeing how much has to be paid in taxes when there is not enough money to pay those taxes. If a person tends to see the negative things in life first, a cognitive distortion, then this can cause overthinking and rumination to begin. Let's say then, as a result of overthinking, the person finds a solution to pay those taxes or they are proved right, they do have cancer, then this can cause overthinking to be continued again in the future. CBT seeks to help individuals discover such patterns and find solutions, so they can live in the present moment better.

2. Mindfulness and Meditation: Many times, overthinking and ruminative thoughts are about the past or future. These practices can help individuals stay present-focused instead of dwelling on past mistakes or future worries. In many ways, it is a redirecting of our thoughts. In DBT, we talk about mindfulness being like washing dishes by hand. We cannot possibly wash all the dishes at once. Instead, we focus on one dish at a time. That is, we are not focusing on washing all the dishes at once, simply the one that is in our hands.

3. Regular Exercise: Physical activity has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression by boosting mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain. Did you know all sorts of good hormones get released when we exercise? When I get stressed and uptight, sometimes, my wife will gently put her hand on my shoulder and in a loving way suggest I go for a walk. When I come back from that walk six hours later (that's a joke 🤪), I always feel better. It helps to get that tension out and start the flow of those feel-good hormones.

4. Medication: In some cases, antidepressant medications may be necessary to manage symptoms effectively. These can be prescribed by a primary care physician, a psychiatrist, or an advanced care provider. At the Maynard Counseling Center, we have relationships with several providers and can help people find that one that will help them with depression and anxiety the best.


Depression is a significant issue that deserves attention and action. Overthinking is one common symptom that can exacerbate feelings of sadness and hopelessness. However, with the right tools and resources - such as cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness practices, regular exercise, or medication - it's possible to break free from the cycle of overthinking and lead a healthier life.

Remember: If you're struggling with depression or overthinking, you're not alone. Reach out to a trusted healthcare provider or mental health professional for support. There's no shame in seeking help - it's the first step towards feeling better. Overthinking can fuel feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, which are common symptoms of depression. When someone continuously dwells on negative thoughts and experiences, it can amplify feelings of sadness and despair. Overthinking can also lead to feelings of guilt, regret, and self-doubt, which are all common in depression.

Overthinking can also affect sleep patterns, appetite, and overall mood, which can further contribute to symptoms of depression. People who overthink may struggle to relax and enjoy life, as their minds are constantly preoccupied with negative thoughts. But it doesn't have to be that way. Talking to a mental health professional can help the overanalyzing types find strategies to manage their thoughts, and find ways to stop overthinking.

If you're overthinking whether or not to seek help, lying awake at night, losing sleep, second-guessing whether or not a therapist can help you work on changing your thought patterns, take a risk and find out. I encourage you to begin challenging your thoughts and channel your energy toward identifying the positive potential outcomes from getting help. It is possible to train your brain and live the life you want.

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