Can Depressive Thoughts Go Viral?

(Time) Depressive Thinking Can Be Contagious

April 24, 2013

We don’t think of emotional states as passing from one person to another, but a new study suggests some depressive thoughts can go viral.

Researchers studying a group of college students found that certain types of depressive thinking can spread from close-living roommates like a lingering flu.

Although many people see depression as a chemical imbalance in the brain, scientists say social context and the way you see yourself and the world can be critical in causing and sustaining the illness, which affects around 10% of college-age adults.

“Thinking styles are a really important factor in risk for depression,” says the study’s lead author Gerald Haeffel, associate professor of clinical psychology at Notre Dame University. “How one thinks about life stress and negative moods is one of the best predictors that we have of future depression.”

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