It’s not always good to talk, especially for teenage girls, new research suggests. Friendships that lend themselves to ruminating about problems may actually contribute to emotional difficulties, depression and anxiety.
A study in the journal Developmental Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, finds that girls are more likely than boys of the same age group to develop anxiety and depression as a result of extensive conversations with friends about their problems, dubbed “co-rumination” by the authors.
They define co-rumination as excessively talking with another person about problems, including rehashing them and dwelling on the negative feelings associated with them. While this was a factor in strengthening close friendships for boys and girls, the researchers found that in girls it increased the symptoms of depression and anxiety, which in turn led to greater discussion of problems.
The six-month study involved 813 American girls and boys, aged 9, 11, 13 and 15, who responded to questionnaires on their friendships. Girls reported discussing problems with friends more than boys did, and it helped them build close friendships.
“However, for girls there was a trade-off in that co-rumination also predicted increasing depressive and anxiety symptoms,” the authors noted. For boys, co-rumination was associated only with greater positive friendship quality and not increased depression and anxiety. Amanda Rose, who led the research at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said that the findings were unexpected