Although stressful life events are often linked with depression not everybody gets depressed after something bad has happened to them. Recently psychologists have begun to look at people's coping strategies - the way in which they deal with problems - and in particular the effect of rumination which has been defined as 'negative cyclic thinking, persistent and recurrent worrying or brooding'. A study of 111 people in Canada compared the coping strategies of people with dysthymia (mild but long-lasting depression) to a control group. Both groups engaged in rumination but in the group with dysthymia this was linked to emotion-focused strategies : emotional expression (aka moaning), emotional containment (bottling things up) and blaming other people or themselves. People in the control group were more likely to use rumination as a form of 'creative pondering' - an attempt to use their problem-solving skills to deal with the situation. After twelve weeks treatment with an antidepressant the group with dysthymia were less depressed but still retained their link between rumination and emotion-focused strategies suggesting that this was a more fundamental problem with their thought processes which could lead to their problems reoccuring.
Owen, Kelly ... [et al] - Ruminative coping among patients with dysthymia before and after pharmacotherapy Depression and Anxiety 24(4), 233-243