Rumination Predicts Future Depressive Symptoms in Healthy Adolescents

Emma Balkind, BS

McLean Hospital
Rumination Predicts Future Depressive Symptoms in Healthy Adolescents

Scientific Abstract


Background: Rumination is commonly defined as a cognitive “response style” characterized by repetitive patterns of negative thinking about negative events and feelings. The current study aims to understand the role of rumination (and other response styles, including distraction and problem solving) in predicting future depressive symptoms in a sample of healthy adolescents.

Methods: The current sample is was derived from an ongoing 2-year longitudinal study. To date, the study includes 33 healthy adolescents ages 12-15 (17 females, 16 males) with no current or past depressive diagnoses according to the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School- Age Children (K-SADS DSM-5; Kaufman et al., 2013). Adolescents completed self-report measures of depressive symptoms (Mood and Feelings Questionnaire; Angold & Costello, 1987), rumination, distraction, and problem-solving (Children’s Response Styles Questionnaire; Abela et al., 2002) and a clinical interview (Children’s Depression Rating Scale; Posner et al., 2010) at baseline and 6-months later.

Results: Females showed significantly higher levels of rumination at baseline compared to males (t = 2.32, p <.05). Baseline age was positively correlated with rumination (r = .26, p = .15), although non significantly. Higher baseline levels of rumination significantly predicted greater depressive symptoms 6- months later (t =2.25, p < .01), while controlling for baseline depressive symptoms, age, and gender, baseline distraction, and baseline problem solving. Neither baseline distraction nor problem solving predicted future (6-months) depressive symptoms.

Conclusion: Results from this study suggest that rumination may be a key predictor of the development of depressive symptoms in healthy adolescents. These findings contribute to previous studies on rumination in adolescents, while highlighting rumination as a potential target for intervention and prevention of depression onset. Further research is needed to understand the effects of response styles such as distraction and problem solving on the onset of depressive symptoms in adolescents.

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research Areas


Emma Balkind, BS, Brianna Pastro, BS, Megan Banchik, Lillian Forman, Emma Tusuzian, Hannah Lawrence, PhD, Christian Webb, PhD

Principal Investigator

Christian Webb, PhD

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