Someone To Complain With Isn't Good, Especially For Teenage Girls

Armen Hareyan's picture

Extensive discussion of problems may have a negative effect on emotional adjustment in girls.

Friendships that lend themselves to ruminating about problems may actually contribute to emotional difficulties in girls, according to new research. A study in the July issue of 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.


Co-rumination, or excessively talking with another person about problems, including rehashing them and dwelling on the negative feelings associated with them, is thought to have both costs and benefits for people experiencing unpleasant situations. This six-month longitudinal study involved 813 third-, fifth-, seventh- and ninth-grade girls and boys, and tested whether co-rumination is associated with depression and anxiety while simultaneously benefiting girls and boys by strengthening friendships.

For girls, co-rumination predicted increased positive friendship quality, including feelings of closeness between friends. However, the study also found that girls who co-ruminate had increased depressive and anxiety symptoms, which in turn, contributed to greater co-rumination.

"Having anxiety symptoms (and presumably, associated heightened levels of worries and concerns) and a high-quality friend to talk to may provide a uniquely reinforcing context for co-rumination," stated Amanda J. Rose, Ph.D, lead author and Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Missouri