Is It True That Depression Can Spread?

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If you were to guess on which emotion spreads the fastest among you and your friends, which would you choose? Well new research says that healthier type of moods spread among groups of friends, while depression does not.

Researchers at the University of Manchester and the University of Warwick in the U.K. examined how moods spread among networks of teens. They used data collected from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which included data on over 2,000 teens in the US.

The team was looking at the spread of healthy or depressed moods among each student’s network of friends.
Their findings were astounding! Having friends with healthy moods reduce the risk of a teen developing a depression. The healthy moods also increase the chance of recovering from a depression.

“What we found is that if you have sufficient friends who are not depressed, in a healthy mood, then that can halve your probability of developing, or double your probability of recovering from, clinical depression in the six to twelve month period that the study ran over,” Dr. Thomas House from the University of Manchester

More importantly, researchers found that depression is not an emotion that spreads to others. Depressed friends do not put their friends at risk. It will always have a positive outcome. Non-depressed people that interact the depressed will always have a positive impact on their lives.

Depression has become a major public health concern worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.

“As a society, if we enable friendships to develop among adolescents (for example, providing youth clubs), each adolescent is more likely to have enough friends with healthy mood to have a protective effect, this would reduce the prevalence of depression.” House said in a statement.

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