Depression can affect people of all ages, including children. One study found that people who were depressed as teens have stronger than normal connections between the emotional and thinking areas of the brain. The study’s authors think that ruminating on negative things may be involved in developing depression, and may be associated with these differences in brain connections. They theorize that learning not to ruminate may help prevent depression.
Don’t despair, though. We are learning more about the brain all the time, and it is capable of changing in both positive and negative ways in response to the environment, learning, and other stimulation. This ability is called neuroplasticity. So even if there are brain changes associated with rumination, there may be ways to reverse them or weaken them through learning new habits.
One habit that can help with depression is learning to think about things differently. This is the main component of cognitive behavioral therapy. One of my therapists used this with me several years ago, and it was very helpful. I highly recommend the book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, by David D. Burns, MD. I bought my copy back in 1984, but the book is still in print and has been updated. There is even a workbook available now. While I still need medication to keep my depression at bay, the cognitive behavioral therapy concepts and exercises discussed in this book remain helpful for me.
Parents and others can help the children in their lives lessen their chances of developing depression by teaching them similar mental skills. These tips work well for adults, too. To learn more, check out this article from PsychCentral.