I was listening to Morning Edition yesterday and was intrigued by Shankar Vedantam’s story, Gloomy Thinking Can Be Contagious. The story talks about how the people you see every day, like a college roommate, can effect your outlook on life. Essentially, if you live with a person with a pessimistic worldview, you are more likely to be negative. Cheery people tend to make you more cheerful. I did a bit more digging and read the study done at Notre Dame. To oversimplify the study, Haeffel and Hames found that when a person is in a cognitively vulnerable state, depressive thoughts can be contagious.
I’m fascinated by the idea that depression can be contagious.
I know quite a bit about the hopelessness that descends on a person when they are depressed. Most of the characters I write about are depressed. I spend hours exploring what in their background could have brought on their depression. Have I been barking up the wrong tree? Could mood be influenced by the company they keep? Are they cognitively vulnerable to depression? What do you think about depression being contagious?
Cognitive Vulnerability to Depression Can Be Contagious