More threads by Daniel E.

Daniel E.
Too much problem talk may affect girls' well-being

Jul 25, 2007

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Girls who discuss their problems extensively with friends may be at increased risk of developing depression and anxiety symptoms, a new study suggests.

The study, which followed 813 children and teenagers for 6 months, found that girls who devoted much time to talking about their problems with friends were more likely to develop depression or anxiety compared with those who did not.

Researchers suspect that such "co-rumination" causes some girls to dwell on fleeting problems like boy trouble and party snubs, leading to persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness or worry.

On top of this, girls who spend time hashing out their problems may leave little room for positive activities that could make them feel better, according to Dr. Amanda J. Rose, an associate professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

"Talking about problems in moderation definitely is healthy," Rose told Reuters Health. But, she said, "co-rumination seems to be too much of a good thing."

The good part, Rose and her colleagues found, was that girls who tended to co-ruminate also tended to say they felt close to their friends. However, they were still more likely to show increasing depression and anxiety symptoms than other girls were.

In contrast, boys who discussed problems with their friends reported more positive friendships and had no increased risk of developing emotional difficulties.

The reason for the gender difference is not completely clear. One reason may be that girls are more likely than boys to take negative experiences to heart, feeling "personal responsibility" for them, according to Rose and her colleagues. Co-rumination may feed this tendency.

Girls should still be encouraged to talk with their friends about their problems, Rose said, just not to an excessive degree. She added that parents should also encourage their daughters to come to them, since they can help their children put their problems into perspective.

While this study involved only adolescents, Rose noted that the findings may well apply to adults also.

SOURCE: Developmental Psychology, July 2007.

Daniel E.
Co-rumination leads to closer friendships and greater levels of depression

...The take-home point is not that talking about problems is, in and of itself, problematic. If that were the case, psychotherapy would always be iatrogenic. Instead, the point is that, when passively talking about problems without enacting solutions becomes a frequent component of a close friendship, the protective nature of friendships is diminished and, in fact, can essentially be reversed, serving as a vulnerability to depressive symptoms. This, in fact, is consistent with the research that indicates catharsis - relieving tension by "getting it out" - is not all it is cracked up to be, at least with respect to talking about problems. In fact, some believe that the reason certain "talk therapies" have not proven to be effective when tested empirically is that they simply encourage co-rumination between the therapist and the client rather than leading to the development and implementation of solutions capable of reducing symptoms.

There is clear evidence that close friendships are a vital protective factor against emotional difficulties, so these findings should not leave parents concerned about their children forging strong bonds with peers. At the same time, these findings do highlight the importance of developing a tendency to work towards solutions rather than simply dwelling upon problems. When a pattern is formed between close friends that involves repeatedly discussing upsetting situations, the friendship itself can, in fact, become a problem.

Daniel E.
Talking Is Good; Too Much Talking May Not Be -
September 10, 2008

?There are quite a few adolescent girls who have high levels of obsessive thinking to begin with,? Dr. Sitnick said. ?They often do this with their mothers as well. It certainly does seem to be a female behavior, and grown women do it, too, ruminating about certain issues and experiences. It can become a mutual complaint society.?
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