According to a new study by researchers at the University of Missouri, when young girls share their problems with their friends they increase their risk of developing anxiety and depression.
Lead study author Amanda Rose, associate professor of psychology at the University says it is important that parents and professionals not ignore the possibility that girls with close friends are still at risk for depression and anxiety and not just worry about those who do not have friends.
The six-month study, which involved 813 third, fifth, seventh and ninth grade boys and girls, examined the effects of co-rumination - excessively talking with friends about problems and concerns.
Rose discovered that girls co-ruminate more than boys, especially in adolescence, and that girls who co-ruminated the most in the fall of the school year were most likely to be more depressed and anxious by the spring.
Rose suggest that while in general, talking about problems and getting social support is linked with being healthy their findings suggest it can also be too much of a good thing; when some youngsters, especially girls, take talking about problems to an extreme, the balance tips, and it can become emotionally unhealthy.
The researchers say co-rumination also may lead to depression and anxiety because it takes so much time which could be used in more positive activities that could help distract youth from their problems.
This is especially true say the researchers for problems that girls can't control, such as whether a particular boy likes them, or whether they get invited to a party that all of the popular kids are attending.
Rose also found that co-rumination was associated with positive friendship quality, including feelings of closeness between friends.
Boys who co-ruminated also developed closer friendships across the school year but did not develop greater depressive and anxiety symptoms over time.
Rose says while adolescents should be encouraged to talk about their problems, it should only be in moderation and without co-ruminating.
The study "Prospective Associations of Co-Rumination With Friendship and Emotional Adjustment: Considering the Socioemotional Trade-Offs of Co-rumination, is published in the journal Developmental Psychology.