Happiness Spreads but Depression Doesn’t

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Recent research suggests that promotion of any friendship between adolescents can reduce depression:

  • Having depressed friends does not put adolescents at risk.  Depression does not ‘spread,’ as some parents fear.
  • Having healthy friends is both protective and curative.  Over a 6 to 12 month period, aving enough friends with a healthy mood can cut in half the probability of developing depression, or it can double the probability of recovering from depression.

So parents, encourage social interaction in your teens.  Promote after school activities and youth organizations.

And be sure to consider the benefits of time with friends when implementing consequences for bad behavior.  Perhaps restricting social behavior through various means, rather than entirely eliminating it, can be an option.

Journal Reference:

  1. E. M. Hill, F. E. Griffiths, T. House. Spreading of healthy mood in adolescent social networks. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2015 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1180