Sharing Negative Thoughts with Friends May Predict Depression in Female Adolescents

Talking about problems is a common practice, especially among teen girls. But does this form of negative self-disclosure, referred to as co-rumination, protect youth from developing depressive symptoms, or contribute to them? Researchers at Rutgers University, the University of Denver and Binghamton University at the State University of New York, collaborated on a study to determine if co-rumination increases or decreases vulnerability to depression. “Adolescence is a critical developmental period for the onset of depression, when prevalence rates increase as much as sixfold,” said Lindsey B. Stone of the Department of Psychology at Binghamton University. “Adolescence is also the time during which the 2:1 gender ratio in depression first emerges, with up to 28% of girls and 14% of boys expected to have experienced a depressive episode by the end of adolescence.”

The researchers assessed 106 adolescents (38% male, 62% female), ranging in age from 11 to 15 years of age. They were evaluated for depression using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children Present and Lifetime Version (K–SADS–PL). After the initial interview, the participants were assessed via the telephone four more times, at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months out. The Child Depression Inventory was used to measure depressive symptoms during the two weeks preceding the interviews. The study revealed that the girls reported more instances of co-rumination than the boys in the study.

The team believes that what is often considered a protective relationship for most teens can actually increase the risk for depression if co-rumination is prevalent. “Since peers are an important source of social support in adolescence, clinicians may consider interventions that specifically provide opportunities to practice more adaptive forms of self-disclosure with adolescent clients,” said the team. “Alternatively, prevention programs that teach adolescents adaptive interaction styles may also prove more fruitful for avoiding this particular risk factor for depression.”

Stone, Lindsey B., Benjamin L. Hankin, Brandon E. Gibb, and John R.Z. Abela. “Co-rumination Predicts the Onset of Depressive Disorders during Adolescence.” Journal of Abnormal Psychology 120.3 (2011): 752-57. Print.

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Katherine


    August 28th, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    But they always say share problems and they divide,no?? And moreover it feels good to have a friend who will listen to your problems.Seems like getting a weight off your chest-to let it out to friends!



    August 29th, 2011 at 3:50 AM

    I’ve read tht depression nd sad feelings r very much communicable so well yeah…in a group it shud get amplified.but then holdin it in is no good either,is it?

  • Kaylynn


    August 29th, 2011 at 4:14 AM

    I don’t know- I could see this goig both ways. But I really think that the more you talk through a problem the easier it is going to be to handle them. And this is even for adolescents.

  • helen K

    helen K

    August 29th, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    it would come down to the attitude of the people if I am to answer this question.if you’re a happy and cheerful person then the depressed feeling would be driven away and if you’re a pessimist it will grow bigger.

  • Audrey


    August 29th, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    You have to be so careful about who you let your kids hang out with. They have such an influence over your kids, so that sometimes they could be the ones to send things spiraling out of control, and not your own children.

    They are so impressionable. I think that I would want to know all of the time who they are hanging out with and the ideas that they are sharing with them. I know that privacy is important for them, but so is being in the know about their lives.



    August 29th, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    Sharing negative thoughts does NOT result in depression. The study is right in it’s own place though.

    They assessed young kids. Kids that do not have the coping techniques and any problem would just seem amplified in their mind. That is the reason for the result of the study.

    Sharing negative thoughts is otherwise not problematic for adults and may in fact result in an unlikely solution! Has happened with me.

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