Can You ‘Catch’ Depression?

Posted on July 8, 2013

We all know how easy it is to catch your roommate’s cold or flu, but what about his or her mood? New research claims that, in some situations, a depressed mood can be contagious.

The authors of the new study, which is published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, based their hypothesis on the existing understanding of “cognitive vulnerability” — the characteristic of responding negatively to stressful life events. Such individuals may simply be more vulnerable to depression. It may also be that cognitive vulnerability is caused by a sense that their actions are the result of things out of their control.

Cognitive vulnerability has long been believed to solidify in adolescence and remain stable through the course of adulthood, but the authors of this study sought to show that cognitive vulnerability can fluctuate, especially during times of social change or environmental transition.

The researchers at the University of Notre Dame evaluated more than 100 pairs of randomly assigned roommates who had just started their freshman years at college — a time of social and environmental flux which can be stressful for many. Within one month of arriving on campus, each student completed an initial questionnaire of cognitive vulnerability and depressive symptoms. They completed the same questionnaire 3 and 6 months later, and, at these times, listed particularly stressful life events that had occurred.

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Source material from Brain Blogger

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