Do Depressed and Anxious People Ruminate And Worry?

Posted on June 17, 2016

The word rumination has the same basis as the word for animals that chew their cud. The idea is that people with anxiety and depression are often plagued by uncontrollable sad thoughts about the past that help to maintain the depressed or anxious state.

As important as rumination is thought to be for anxiety and depression, it has been observed mostly in laboratory studies and self-reports of past behavior. To address this limitation, a group of researchers used an experience sampling method. This work was presented in a paper in the November, 2015 issue of Clinical Psychological Science by Kathaina Kircanski, Renee Thompson, James Sorenson, Lindsey Sherdell,a nd Ian Gotlib.

In this study, four groups were tracked (each with about 20 people in it). One group had Major Depressive Disorder, but not Generalized Anxiety Disorder (as diagnosed with a clinical interview). A second group had Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but not Major Depressive Disorder. A third group had both, and a fourth group was a control that had neither disorder.

Each group was given a device that would alert them 8 times per day for 7-8 days. Each time they received an alert, they rated how much they were ruminating and worrying at that moment. They also rated several factors that are thought to be associated with rumination and worry like whether their thoughts were unpleasant, repetitive, uncontrollable, specific, focused on the self, and focused on uncertainty and lack of control.

The results suggest that rumination and worry are common in the daily lives of people with anxiety and depression. The groups with depression and/or anxiety reported ruminating and worrying at about half of the times that they were sampled. In contrast, the control group was ruminating or worrying on only about 20% of the occasions in which they were sampled.

What is nice about a study like this is that it takes findings from laboratory research and ensures that they hold in people’s daily lives.

To read the full article, click the link below.

Category(s):Anxiety, Depression

Source material from Psychology Today

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