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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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