How to Use the Rumination Subscale? (+3 Negative Effects)

This article will discuss the existence of a scale that assesses the level of rumination a person has. It will show how this scale is divided into 3 subscales, and what the 3 of them represent. Aside from that, the article will explain what rumination is, and how it can affect a person’s health.

What is rumination? 

Rumination is a way people answer a distress situation. In it, the person focuses repetitively on the possible causes and consequences of the distress. It is a passive focus, meaning the person doesn’t act on it. 

Rumination is the process of thinking constantly about the stressor event. It isn’t just the thought in itself. Rumination can be a positive or negative experience, it is positive when it can lead to problem-solving. But it is negative when a person is stuck in the problem, and can’t find a way out of it. 

Rumination is different from worry. While the first is mostly centered on a negative event, worry is usually connected to a situation of uncertainty. It can be associated with many mental and physical health issues. Let’s discuss some of them.

The impact of rumination on a person’s health

Rumination can have an extremely negative effect on a person’s mental and physical health. According to research, it can be common for people with depression. 

It enhances negative thoughts, and it also impairs problem-solving, and social skills, making the person more isolated, and deteriorating their social support.

It is also associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs, as well as many anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bulimia nervosa.

It can also have an impact on a person’s physical well-being. It can cause many somatic effects on the person, meaning that rumination causes people to overfocus on the symptoms of illnesses. 

People that ruminate a lot also have a lower perception of the quality of their general health and have a higher perception of pain.

What are the rumination subscales?

Some scales evaluate the level of rumination a person has. They usually evaluate the frequency of unwanted, recurring, and negative thoughts. Let’s take a look at two of them.

Ruminative Responses Scales

There is the Ruminative Responses Scale, which consists of 22 items that are responded to through a 4 point Likert-scale form, in which the person should tell how often they experience each situation: rarely, sometimes, often, and almost always. 

This scale can range, in the score, from 22 to 88. And it is divided into two subscales: Scale of rumination about self, and scale of rumination about the social world.

What do they stand for?

The ruminative Responses Scale is divided into two subscales. Secale of ruminations about self, and Scale of rumination about the social world. Let’s discuss what they are about.

The scale of Rumination about self 

This subscale is correlated to low self-esteem and your domains in life.

The scale of Rumination about the social world

This subscale is related to a low sense of satisfaction in your social life.

Ruminative Responses Scale-Short Form

But since this scale had some items that overlapped with depression symptoms, it was created a shorter form of the scale. It is called Ruminative Responses Scale- Short Form. 

This is now the most used scale to measure the level of rumination. This is a 10 items scale, with a 4-point Likert scale. This scale can range from 10 to 44. And it is divided into two subscales: brooding and reflecting. 

What do they stand for? 

The two subscales in the Ruminative Response Scale-Short Form are brooding and reflecting. Let’s discuss what each of them represents.


Brooding is seen as a maladaptive form of rumination. It can be related to melancholy, it refers to mood pondering, and it is most associated with depression. In the Ruminative Response Scale-Short Form, items 1, 3, 6, 7, and 8 stand for brooding matters.


Reflecting can have a maladaptive and adaptive face to it. Being able to reflect can lead to a more problem-solving behavior, it is a thoughtful, non-emotional assessment of the past and present feelings, thoughts, and events. Items 2, 4, 5, 9, and 10 stand for reflecting matters.

How to cope with rumination?

Rumination can be treated in some ways. People can do other activities, such as working out or being around their loved ones, this will help them distract from the negative thoughts. 

People may also find meditation and mindfulness activities useful. Those techniques can help you center yourself again, and move your thoughts away from your negative and ruminating thoughts.

If the rumination persists, it might be important to look for professional help. Having a safe space, with no judgment, can help you find a better way to channel your thoughts and emotions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): What are the rumination subscales?

How can you stop rumination?  

There are some ways you can stop the process of elimination. The first thing to do is to avoid the triggers that can cause you to ruminate. For example, if social networking causes you to ruminate, you may try to avoid doing it or spend significantly less time on it. 

Spending some time outdoors, especially in nature, ruminates a lot less after their time out. The same is said about exercising, so if you can pair them both, you can have a significant improvement in ruminations. 

Having other things to focus on, be it a tv show, a book, or talking to friends can help you distract yourself from what you have been ruminating about. You can also question those thoughts you have been having. You might realize that you are putting a lot of energy into something that is mostly imagination. 

Working on your self-esteem is a great way to reduce rumination. If you are more sure of yourself, you will most likely question yourself less. You may also want to expand your interests to build your self-esteem in other manners.

And meditation can also be a great way to handle rumination. It allows you to understand your thoughts and your feelings, and now they connect. And in time, medication allows you to have some control over those automatic thoughts. 

What are the signs and symptoms of rumination? 

Rumination is extremely frequent in people with depression and can make its treatment less effective. The main signs of it are usually similar to the ones of depression.  But the most common signs of rumination are:

  • Talking too much about negative topics
  • Thinking too much about a painful topic or event
  • Intense sadness
  • Numbness
  • Irritability
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in things they used to love
  • Loss of interest
  • Loss of motivation 
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Feeling too tired
  • Change pin eating pattern
  • Suicidal thoughts

What causes rumination? 

People can begin to ruminate because they have a coping style that is counterproductive. They can begin to brood over whatever happens to them. It can also be related to negative experiences a person went through in their childhood or teenage years that can make it hard for them to cope with their feelings and thoughts.

And in trying to process your emotions, you can get stuck in your thought pattern. This counterproductive coping strategy can be related to many mental illnesses, especially depression. And it can lead to suicidal thoughts. It is usually a sign of low emotional intelligence. 

Ruminations can have a positive or negative side depending on which coping strategy the person uses to deal with it. The reflective ruminations are connected to a positive coping strategy and are a sign of better emotional intelligence. 

And brooding is connected to a more negative coping strategy, lower emotional intelligence, and higher occurrence of depression.

What is the difference between rumination and emotional processing? 

Rumination involves negative thought patterns, in which the person is just thinking recently about the matter. And as they try to handle their emotions, they can get stuck in it, and replay previous events that hurt them. But they don’t try to find a way out of the matter.

When you are emotionally processing something, you are usually looking for a solution for it. It usually generates new behaviors, ways of thinking, and possibilities. 

Can antidepressants cure rumination?

Antidepressants can significantly improve your rumination. Since it is mostly related to depression, as you start your treatment for depression, you can begin to feel your rumination getting better. It can improve your negative thought pattern, and That directly affects your rumination. 

Does depression have a cure?

No, depression doesn’t have a cure. Mental health professionals usually say that depression goes into remission. That is because depression has a genetic aspect to it, it is impossible to say you won’t ever develop depression again.

But what is important to say is that during your remission you can feel your symptoms decrease, and you will be able to have better control of your emotions. It will allow, little by little, you to resume activities that depression makes you quit. 

And even though you may get discharged knowing depression can always come back, try to keep in mind all you have learned about mental health during this process. 

How taking care of it can improve your quality of life, and in the long run, keeping some of the habits you got when treating depression, such as exercising and sleeping well, can improve your overall quality of life.

What are suicidal thoughts?

Suicidal thoughts are ones in which people consider ending their own life. It can happen because the person is going through a mental health condition, or because they are going through a traumatic experience, such as financial or legal problems. 

It can usually come when people feel like they don’t have another way out of their problem. But suicidal thoughts can come in two forms. People can have a fleeting thought about ending their lives, but not plan any things. 

When that is the case, it is something to worry about. But once the person is already planning suicide, it seems like a moment of crisis. When a person is already planning suicide, it can be that in a moment of impulse they will act in it. So the mental health professionals and support network of this person should be aware and careful. 


The article explained what are the ruminations subscales. For that, the article explained what the rumination scale is, and what its 3 subscales represent. Along with that, the article explained what rumination is and how it can impact a person’s mental health.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write it in the section below.


Sansone RA, Sansone LA. Innov Clin Neurosci. 2012 Feb; 9(2): 29–34. Published online 2012 Feb.

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