Elevated cognitive rumination was associated with suicidal ideation in adolescents with major depressive disorder, according to study findings published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
“We found evidence that increased levels of rumination predicted increased levels of suicidal thoughts,” said lead researcher Maria Dauvermann, PhD, of the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, and the University of Cambridge Institute of Technology, Massachusetts.
“This was the most significant finding in the study and—although only a preliminary finding—it provides a promising benchmark from which to investigate this area further and could lead to new treatment methods for young people with major depressive disorders.”
The study analyzed data for 67 young patients with major depressive disorder, ages 11 through 17, from the Magnetic Resonance-Improving Mood with Psychoanalytic and Cognitive Therapies (MR-IMPACT) study. Researchers used structural equation modeling to investigate how structural brain alterations, rumination, and recent stressful experiences contributed to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Increased rumination, according to the study, was related to increased severity of suicidal ideation but not suicide attempt.
Although neither recent stress nor lower surface area of brain regions was directly linked with suicidal ideation or attempt, recent stress and increased rumination were independently associated with lower surface area of brain regions previously implicated in suicidal ideation and rumination, researchers reported.
“These findings suggest,” researchers wrote, “that both recent stress and these brain regions may contribute to suicidal ideation through their effect on ruminative responses in young people with major depressive disorder.”
Based on secondary analyses, study results are hypothesis-forming and preliminary, the authors wrote, and require replication at this point.
“However,” they added, “our findings offer new pathways for further research to improve our understanding of biological, psychological, and social risk correlates of developing suicidal thoughts and behaviors in adolescents with major depressive disorder.”
Rumination is defined as engaging in a repetitive negative thought process that loops continuously in the mind without end or completion.