Teenage girls have to deal with higher amounts of stress compared to boys which makes them more likely to ruminate, thereby increasing their risk of depression, a new study reveals.
Psychology researcher and lead author on the study, Jessica Hamilton of Temple University said that the findings draw their focus to the important role of stress as a potential causal factor in the development of vulnerabilities to depression, particularly among girls, and could change the way that we target risk for adolescent depression.
The study found that cognitive vulnerabilities associated with depression, such as negative cognitive style and rumination, emerge during adolescence. Teens who tend to interpret events in negative ways (negative cognitive style) and who tend to focus on their depressed mood following such events (rumination) are at greater risk of depression.
Scientists said that although there is a range of other vulnerabilities that contribute to the emergence of girls' higher rates of depression during adolescence, the study highlights an important malleable pathway that explains girls' greater risk of depression.
According to the study, teens who reported higher levels of interpersonal dependent stress showed higher levels of negative cognitive style and rumination at later assessments, even after the researchers took initial levels of the cognitive vulnerabilities, depressive symptoms, and sex into account.
Girls tended to show more depressive symptoms at follow-up assessments than did boys - while boys' symptoms seemed to decline from the initial assessment to follow-up, girls' symptoms did not and were also exposed to a greater number of interpersonal dependent stressors during that time, and analyses suggest that it is this exposure to stressors that maintained girls' higher levels of rumination and, thus, their risk for depression over time.
The study was published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. (ANI)