The theory of response styles: this explains depression

In psychology, many theories have been proposed to explain the origin and maintenance of depression: theories of learning, cognitive, social …

today we will learn the theory of response styles from Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, A cognitive-social model that refers to the subject’s ruminant style to explain the chronification of depressive disorder.

There are people who change things a lot, even put themselves in a loop and do absolutely nothing to fix their problems. We are talking about a ruminative thinking style. But how does this style of thinking relate to depression? We will see that later.

    Response styles theory

    The theory of response styles is a theory encompassed in cognitive-social models, which was asked by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema (1991, 2000), American psychologist and professor at Yale University.

    When Nolen-Hoeksema began studies on the style of ruminants, he realized that ruminative thinking and depression they showed no significant difference between girls and boys during childhood.

    However, from adolescence onwards, the presence of both elements was twofold in women, remaining constant for the rest of their life cycle (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991).

    The author alluded to the factors that determine the course of depression. According to the theory of response styles, how the subject reacts to the first symptoms of depression influence its duration and severity.

    In other words, the theory does not explain the origin of depression, but its maintenance and exacerbation.

    The style of ruminants in depression

    Ruminative style or rumination is repetitive ideas about one’s own sadness, its causes and possible consequences. It is a predictor of certain psychopathologies and is linked to depression, as Nolen-Hoeksema points out.

    Additionally, it can be seen as a type of coping strategy in stressful and uncomfortable situations, although it is seen as dysfunctional and inappropriate, happen to have consequences as serious as suicide, in extreme cases.

    According to Response Style Theory, once you have depression, focusing your attention on the symptoms and their implications, doing nothing to alleviate them (i.e., manifesting a ruminative response style) will maintain or exacerbate depressive symptoms.

    This style is the opposite of an active style based on distraction or problem solving, which in this case would be functional and adaptive.

    Numerous experimental and field studies support S. Nolen-Hoeksema theory and indicate that a ruminative response style in a subject increases the likelihood that a depressed mood will intensify, Even become a depressive disorder.

      Mechanisms of ruminant style

      The theory of response styles raises a number of mechanisms that explain the negative effects of ruminant style, And which are as follows:

      1. Vicious circles

      Vicious circles occur between depressed mood and negative cognitions associated with depression.

      These two elements influence each other and reverberate, causing depression to become chronic and severe.

      2. Decreased production of effective solutions

      The generation of solutions aimed at solving basic problems is practically nil.

      like that, the subject does nothing or practically nothing to resolve their situationIt simply “flips” what happens to it, without reaching any conclusion or implementing a solution.

      3. Interference with instrumental behaviors

      Ruminating style negatively interferes with the application of instrumental behaviors that would provide reinforcement and a sense of control over the subject.

      In other words, rumination makes it difficult to generate and implement such behaviors; in this way, the subject he will enter a state of helplessness and despair which will lead him to “do nothing”.

      4. Weakened social support

      Social support is reduced or disappears, due to patient behavior, which he arouses criticism and rejection from his family and friends.

      Origin of the ruminant style

      The ruminative style posed by the theory of response styles comes from childhood learning, through modeling and certain socialization practices that do not provide a more adaptive repertoire of behaviors.

      Results of experimental studies

      Ruminative responses (ruminative style) have been investigated in experimental studies, and the following effects of ruminative thinking style have been observed:

      • Increase in negative and overall attributions.
      • Increased accessibility of negative memories.
      • Pessimism and biased negative interpretations.
      • Generation of poorer interpersonal solutions.

      On the other hand, we have also seen how rumination can be a predictor of symptoms of anxiety, in addition to depression, in individuals with or without pre-existing depression.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1991). Response to depression and its effects on the duration of depressive episodes. Journal of Anomalous Psychology, 100, 569-582.
      • Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2000). The role of rumia in depressive disorders and mixed depressive symptoms of anxiety. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 504-511.
      • Belloch, A .; Sandín, B. and Ramos, F. (2010). Manual of psychopathology. Volumes I and II. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.
      • García, R., Valencia, A., Hernández-Martínez, A., Rocha, T. (2017). Ruminative Thinking and Student Depression: Rethinking the Impact of Gender. Inter-American Journal of Psychology (IJP), 51 (3), 406-416.

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