Introduction: Researchers have proposed several theories of depressive rumination. To compare among them, we conducted a joint factor analysis.
Methods: An online sample (n = 498) completed four rumination questionnaires and the Beck Depression Inventory. We examined associations between emerging factors and depressive symptoms.
Results: Most commonly, people ruminated about solving problems in their lives, followed by the causes or consequences of negative situations. They least commonly ruminated about their symptoms and sadness. Thoughts about symptoms and causes or consequences of negative situations uniquely related to depressive symptoms. There was a circular covariance relation between depressive symptoms, thoughts about causes or consequences, and problem-solving, suggesting that symptoms are regulated by a negative feedback loop involving problem-solving. This feedback was not present unless models included thoughts about causes or consequences, suggesting that these thoughts benefit problem-solving.
Discussion: Depressive rumination may be a dynamic process involving various thoughts, with different combinations of thoughts having different consequences for depression.