Russian to mental health

We are all searching for a healthier way of thinking. With rates of depression and anxiety skyrocketing coupled with increasing life pressures, there is a desperate need now for a look at healthier and more productive ways of thinking about negative life events. Perhaps the answer may have come from a surprising source: the Russians.

The Russians have an international reputation as a brooding and complicated people. This perception may have risen from political events over the last century and been reinforced by novelists like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky whose literary efforts make Dante’s Inferno seem a light and breezy read. It is not a misconception though as social studies over the years have found that Russians do tend to focus on dark feelings and memories more than do Westerners.

What some new research has shown however, is that Russians are not damaged as much by their dark ruminations as are Westerners. In establishing this researchers from the University of Michigan may have also pointed to ways for all of us to avoid depressive states while still being able to learn from our negative experiences.

The researchers conducted two experiments and the first examined the levels of self-reflection among a group of Russians compared to a group of Americans. No surprise came in the fact that the Russians were more likely to brood. Interestingly however, depressive symptoms were higher among the Americans.

The next step was to conduct an experiment wherein two new groups of Russians and Americans were asked to recall their deepest thoughts and feelings about a recent negative life event. The subjects were then given questionnaires to establish how they processed and dealt with those events.

First, it was found that the Russians experienced less distress when recalling the negative experience. The Russians were also less likely to blame others for what had happened than the Americans. Lastly, the Russians distanced themselves from what had happened and were able to look at it analytically whereas the Americans became immersed again in the emotions of the experience.

It seems then that taking responsibility for what has happened and letting go of the emotional attachments to events may be a recipe for reducing depressive symptoms. If that fails, perhaps wearing a faux fur hat may put a rosier glow on things?

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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