Wandering thoughts may help in better diagnosis of mental health

Wandering thoughts may help in better diagnosis of mental health

The experience of directionless thoughts, unrelated to any task and independent of stimulus, which tends to run randomly across one’s mind, especially whenever sitting idle or at rest, is common among many. Often, wandering thoughts are considered to be negative and unhappy, as the trail set by them is indefinite. One thought often leads to another, including either digging the past, or planning the future or contemplating events.

Though largely associated with the spontaneous thought framework, such as creative thinking and dreaming, wandering thoughts may also hint upon an underlying mental illness. Wandering thoughts can be caused due to worry, lack of concentration, distractions or lack of interest in events. They are also the result of unhappy minds that further causes a bad mood.

Coherent thinking demands investment of emotions

Several studies suggest that mind-wandering is a default mode of operation for the brain. In the similar vein, a research, “Wandering mind not a happy mind,” conducted by Harvard University in 2010,  underlines the fact that people spend nearly 47 percent of their waking hours in thinking about things and events not happening around them.

It further suggests, “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” Additionally, it highlights that since the ability to be mindful about what is happening around is a cognitive achievement, it demands an investment of emotions.

As a result, the diagnosis of wandering minds can help in the identification of mental health conditions. According to another study, “Understanding mind-wandering could shed light on mental illness,” conducted by the University of British Columbia, paying attention to the flow of the thoughts can enable an in-depth understanding and targeted treatments for mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Mind-wandering equivalent to creative thinking

According to the co-author Zachary Irving of a recent study, “Mind-wandering as spontaneous thought: a dynamic framework,” published online in Nature Reviews Neuroscience in September 2016, wandering thoughts are the thoughts that the brain thinks when it enters into a spontaneous mode. This helps the brain to think creatively and dream. Therefore, it’s important to understand the difference between mind-wandering and obsessive thoughts and how they work together.

By taking into account nearly 200 neuroscience studies, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan brains during resting activities, the reviewers found that interactions between different brain networks offered insights into how the resting mind moves. Though variations in thinking are quite a normal occurrence, the study re-conceptualizes disorders, such as ADHD, depression and anxiety, as an extension of such a variation in thinking.

While an anxious mind assists in focusing on important things, the ADHD mind allows one to think with no inhibitions and creatively. Thus, the above study underlines the fact that spontaneous thought processes (including not only mind-wandering, but also creative thinking and dreaming) occur when one’s thoughts are comparatively more free from both deliberate and automatic constraints. This makes mind-wandering as a pattern of thinking not so far from creative thinking.

Don’t ignore persistent mind-wandering

The above findings widen the scope for exploring and developing processes and mechanisms for the better diagnosis of mental illnesses. They can certainly be used to come up with advanced treatments for the patients with ADHD, depression, etc.

Patients with mental illnesses often experience difficulty in remaining focused which further triggers hyperactive behaviors and mood swings. Though the study has offered a gateway for science to explore techniques of treatment for mental illnesses, any patient showing symptoms of such conditions should be immediately taken for medical consultation.

If you or your loved one is suffering from mental illnesses, seek help from the Florida Mental Health Helpline. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-846-5588 or chat online with our experts available round the clock to assist you with expert advice on treatments for mental health disorders in Florida. They can provide you the complete information about the best centers for mental disorder treatment in Florida.

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