The correspondence of changes in depressive rumination and worry to weekly variations in affective symptoms: A test of the tripartite model of anxiety and depression in women

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As negative repetitive thought forms, depressive rumination and worry have been most closely examined in the contexts of depression and anxiety, respectively. However, recent research suggests that rumination and worry are transdiagnostic processes that are similarly related to both disorders. As the higher rates of depression and anxiety in women are largely attributable to negative repetitive thought, it is important to examine how rumination and worry influence symptoms of these disorders within women across time. The present study first sought to evaluate the specificity of depressive rumination and worry in their correspondence to shared and unique symptoms of depression and anxiety. Second, we delineated the temporal relationships between affective symptoms and repetitive thoughts.


In a study of 67 women, weekly ratings of general distress, anxious arousal, anhedonic depression, worry, and rumination were collected over 5 weeks.


Analyses revealed that both rumination and worry were independently related to concurrent general distress (shared feature of depression and anxiety), but not anxious arousal or anhedonia (unique symptoms). Further, a positive feedback loop was observed involving depressive rumination—and its brooding component—predicting greater general distress the following week, and vice versa.


These findings indicate that depressive rumination and worry do not distinguish between depression and anxiety disorders, and that both forms of negative repetitive thoughts are related to shared features of depression and anxiety. However, given the cyclical relationship between rumination and distress symptoms, rumination may be a more corrosive cognitive process in women.

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