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3 Things to Know: What wandering thoughts say about your mental health

The University of Arizona led a study about people’s thoughts
3 Things to Know: What wandering thoughts say about your mental health
3 Things to Know: What wandering thoughts say about your mental health(Pixabay)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:01 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - We’re On Your Side Tonight making sense of all those wandering thoughts we have.

It just happens sometimes.

You’re doing some mindless work and you find yourself lost in thoughts about anything really.

What do they mean?

They could actually reveal a lot about your mental health.

So we’ve got three things to know.

Thing one is where all this is coming from.

The University of Arizona led a study about people’s thoughts.

Seventh-eight people had to basically say whatever they were thinking for 10 minutes while they say alone in a room.

They couldn’t have any electronics. It was just them and their thoughts.

It was supposed to mimic those little breaks we have throughout the day - maybe waiting in a line, taking a shower, laying in bed.

Overall, more than 2,000 thoughts were logged and analyzed.

Thing two is what the researchers found.

Most people spent those 10 minutes thinking about the present or future in a neutral way.

But there was a pattern that’s linked to a common symptom of depression.

It’s called ruminative thinking. It’s when someone keeps thinking the same negative thoughts.

People who scored high on a rumination questionnaire tended to have thoughts that were more negative and focused on the past.

Their negative thoughts kept narrowing down into a more specific topic over time, too.

So what do we do with this information?

That’s thing three.

The researchers say now they want to look at how this all ties into the brain’s functions.

They want to do MRIs for 10 minutes to see how the brain acts when people have these thoughts.

The lead researcher says they want to connect those thoughts with biology to “Provide a fuller picture of consciousness and mental health...We hope that one day, our inner mental lives won’t be as much of a mystery.”

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