Researchers have developed an online program capable of relieving people plagued by rumination and worry. Johanna Rozenblum, psychologist, gives us her opinion on this discovery and gives us her tips to fight against these negative thoughts.
An online program against rumination
A study published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy has just published the conclusive results of an online course program aimed at helping people prone to rumination and worry. Developed by Australian researchers, the Managing Rumination and Worry Program consists of three courses to be taken over a six-week period. The goal? To help people overwhelmed by negative thoughts reduce their levels of rumination (dwelling on past negative experiences) and worry (not stopping to think about negative things that might happen in the near future).
“Rumination is a sterile thought on a loop. A thought about an action or an event, something that we should have done, often in self-devaluation. But this thought on a loop does not allow to obtain any answer, nor to take action, it does not bring any benefit” nou explains Johanna Rozenblum, psychologist.
This online program has proven to be very effective since it has significantly improved the mental health of people who have tested it. So much so that the Australian government has decided to offer it free of charge on its official medical site (This Way Up) to people in possession of a prescription from their doctor.
An impressive number of nominations
To test this unique online program, Professor Jill Newby and her team had to recruit participants on the internet. They were surprised by the number of applications received. “We were not able to process all the requests because we had a time limit for the choice of participants. This shows that there is a real demand for psychological help from people in the grip of rumination and worry.“said Professor Newby.
After reviewing the applications, the researchers selected 137 people who said they ruminated a lot. The cohort was divided into three groups. The first group benefited from the online program for six weeks and support from a doctor. The second group benefited from online courses but without medical support. The third group, the control group, was able to complete the program online only after an 18-week waiting period.
Immediate and lasting results
The researchers found that 80% of participants who took the online courses with or without the assistance of a doctor reported a drop in their levels of rumination, depression and stress immediately after the end of the program and within three months after the end of the program. The best results were observed in the group that received support from a doctor (a total of 48 minutes). On the other hand, the results were not as good in the control group.
“We’ve known for years that online programs can have a positive effect on mental health. But this is the first to focus specifically on rumination and worry. Previous studies in the UK have looked at the prevention of mental illness in young people, but our study is the first to have been carried out on adults of all ages and included in a government programme”enthused Professor Newby.
What is the content of the program?
The online program takes the form of a comic book that follows two fictional characters as they learn to manage their ruminations and worries. After each lesson, users are prompted to upload a lesson summary and action plan to put into practice in the next lesson.
In particular, this program helps users recognize when they are overwhelmed by their negative thoughts. “Simply recognizing these moments and naming them can help people deal with them better.”, explained Dr. Amy Joubert, lead author of the study. Online courses also give tips to users to drive away their negative thoughts by focusing on other activities.
“Our next objective is to adapt this program to targeted populations. For example, helping people with anxiety or pregnant women stressed about their pregnancy”said Professor Newby.
Stop rumination, instructions for use
It can actually be useful to find a solution to negative ideas. And in this context, can the idea of an online course really help to get out of this rumination? For the psychologist, it is efficiency that must take precedence:
“What’s good for the person is what works! So some will find themselves there in these workshops, others will need more exchanges, to be able to ask questions, face to face. But why not, after all, if educational and useful tools are accessible in this way”.
For our expert, the only rule to follow to counter rumination lies in a key idea:
“To stop rumination, you must above all take action, whatever action is taken (go shopping, wash your hair, call a girlfriend, etc.) because when the body gets going, rumination cease or decrease”.
So, if a loopy idea is keeping you up at night, it’s better to even get up and start something that involves us physically than to ruminate. “Beyond that, in the long term, if an idea prevents us from moving forward, we can also work on the origin of this rumination, what triggers it, and how to deconstruct all this”.