Free Press Journal

Is Depression contagious?


Depression is called the common cold of mental illness, and it’s not for nothing. Most of us tend to stay away from someone who has got a cough or cold because one might catch it, similarly by spending a lot of time with someone who is depressed, your chances of becoming depressed increase drastically. Please note, this is not to say that you shouldn’t spend time with people who are depressed, because most times it’s the support of family and friends that is essential in getting someone out of his or her depressive state. So yes, depression is contagious, but any sort of illness – it’s complicated!

You won’t get depressed just because a depressed friend of yours sat with you for a few hours and poured his or her heart out. Depression has a lot to do with one’s genetics, family history, environment and more. For years, researches have noticed that habits like starting to smoke or detoxing for a month usually happen in a herd form; one friend starts and a few others tend to follow. Again, that’s not to say that you’re going to get depressed just because your best friend is suffering from depression!

Everyone has their own methods of dealing with issues, their own limitations with these issues and even their own reaction to issues. A situation which might be a cause of depression in one person could just be source of anger in another person, whereas it could be considered as an easy task by a third. Essentially, a person doesn’t suffer from depression just because of some generic hardship; it has more to do with the behavior and the attitude of the person. When you spend a large amount of time with someone who is depressed – even if it’s to cheer them up or let them confide in you –it is the negative vibe that you feel around you when you step into the room, which is what could make you sad or even depressed.

The pessimistic thinking and preconceived perceptions of a depressed person is what could be contagious, eventually altering your thinking process and making you depressed.

To be clear, it’s not the depression that is contagious; it’s the style of thinking which gets transferred on from one person to the other. Let’s take an example. If your mother is depressed and she keeps talking about how life never seemed to go her way and how everything around her is just horrible, chances are even you’ll start looking at all the negative things happening in your life. Earlier, an increase in salary would be a reason for celebration. But now, you won’t be happy about your increase in salary because your colleague got a promotion. And why is that? This is probably because subconsciously you’ve started adapting to your depressed mother’s way of thinking – negative thoughts and negative vibes.

So does that mean you shouldn’t spend any time around depressed people? Well, that’s your call. Some of you might feel that being around a depressed person will eventually have an impact on you, while some might feel that they cannot leave their loved ones to deal with this situation alone. But the good news is that depression is curable! If it’s mild depression, it could be cured with natural methods like exercising, eating right and being healthy. When the depression is moderate or extreme, it’s still curable, except this time you’ll have to consult a professional. You might not be able to help your loved one all by yourself, but you can help them by nudging them to visit a psychologist or psychiatrist for them to overcome this disease.

(The article is published in association with Juno Clinic