Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rumination and depression

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

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