September 2, 2015 13:00 — 0 Comments

Healthy Moods Spread Via Social Contact, Not Depression

Research recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B revealed that having mentally healthy friends can help someone recover from depression or even continue to remain mentally healthy. In contrast, the study found that having depressed friends does not make you more likely to become depressed yourself. During the study, researchers analyzed more than 2,000 adolescents in a network of U.S. high school students to find out how their moods influenced each other. They modeled their method by using similar tracking techniques typically used for the spread of infectious diseases. The team found that while depression does not “spread,”  having enough friends with a healthy mood can halve the probability of developing, or double the probability of recovering from, depression over a six- to 12-month period. In the context of depression, this is a very large impact. “We know social factors, for example, living alone or having experienced abuse in childhood, influences whether someone becomes depressed,” said the study’s lead author. “We also know that social support is important for recovery from depression, for example having people to talk to. Our study is slightly different, as it looks at the effect of being friends with people on whether you are likely to develop or recover from being depressed … It could be that having a stronger social network is an effective way to treat depression.” Although the researchers cite the need for further study, the results of the study show how we can significantly reduce the burden of depression through affordable, low-risk interventions. To read more about this study, click here.

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