Advertisement

When talking things over can backfire

Times Staff Writer

Terrorist attacks, floods, fires and other disasters aside, sometimes it can be better to just zip your lip when it comes to personal problems too.

Among girls ages 8 to 14, for example, those who dwell on personal concerns with friends -- such as whether Jason likes them or why they weren’t invited to Taylor’s party -- are likely to be anxious and depressed, according to a study in the July 15, 2007, issue of the journal Developmental Psychology.

In a study of more than 800 students in third, fifth, seventh and ninth grades, girls and boys who rehashed problems and focused on negative feelings developed close friendships with co-complainers. But the girls (not the boys) ended up depressed and anxious, which led to more angst-y chatter -- an endless cycle.

“They’re spending such a high percentage of time dwelling on problems that it probably makes them feel sad and hopeless,” Amanda Rose, professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia and author of the study, said in a news release. “And it likely makes them feel more worried about the problems, and consequences.”

Advertisement

Boys can talk about concerns with friends, but they spend less time ruminating, then glide away without feeling worse. Girls are more likely to focus on the same problem repeatedly. The girls in the study encouraged each other to talk about negative events and feelings and to speculate on consequences. “Some kids, especially girls, are taking talking about problems to an extreme,” Rose said. “In general, talking . . . is healthy. Co-rumination likely represents too much of a good thing.”

--

susan.brink@latimes.com


Advertisement
Advertisement