Why does thinking change in depression?

Two hands holding two cogwheels

Why does thinking change in depression?

Have you ever noticed that how you think changes with how you feel? You may have found yourself thinking in a more negative way when your mood is low or depressed. And you may have noticed that this doesn’t happen as much when your mood is better. You may even have found yourself believing negative thoughts about yourself that you wouldn’t usually believe.

So why does thinking change in depression?

Researchers have found that our current mood has a strong influence on how we process information and the type of memories we recall. When we feel sad or depressed, we’re more likely to process information in a negative, pessimistic way than when we feel happy. And we’re more likely to recall unhappy memories. This is common in depression. It’s one of the reasons that we think some people stay depressed when their mood drops. In depression, people can then start to think in repetitive negative ways, which is hard to stop – this is called rumination. They also find it harder to enjoy things. These changes are part of what keeps depression going.

It’s important to know that these changes in thinking aren’t deliberate. So it’s definitely not your fault if you feel depressed. The good news is that changing how you respond to your thinking when you feel depressed can help improve how you feel over time. I’ll give some tips for ways to handle this thinking in the next post.


If you’d like assistance with managing how you feel, please contact us on (02) 9119 8778 or email us on reception@healthymindclinic.com.au. We provide appointments in person, by phone and by video. Rebates from Medicare and your private health fund may be available for appointments.

If you are in a mental health emergency, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14, the Mental Health Line 1800 011 511, Emergency 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.