Is Depression “Contagious?”: Symptoms of Depression in Teens

Many youth and adults today, do not have a great general understanding of mental illnesses. Some have no idea how mental illnesses develop, how to recognize symptoms or treatment options available. While mental illness is not contagious, symptoms of depression in teens and other forms of mental illnesses can be absorbed from other people. The people we surround ourselves with have a significant effect on us. A recent article by Psychology Today discusses how symptoms of depression in teens can influence peers and others around them.

Developing Habits

Healthy and unhealthy habits have been adopted from our friends for generations. If your friends start smoking, you are more likely to too. If your friends start becoming more active, you are more likely to follow in their footsteps. What the people around you do, affects you whether you realize it or not.
Symptoms of depression in teens occurs with the same range of unhealthy attitudes and behaviors such as pessimism, criticism, canceling social plans, and general irritability. These behaviors and negative beliefs can be communicated from person to person. Individuals who surround themselves with people embodying these attitudes and behaviors may start to express common symptoms of depression in teens.

College Roommates

Researchers conducted a study on more than 100 pairs of newly assigned college freshman roommates at move-in. Throughout the course of freshman year, the researchers evaluated the roommates within three and six months of living together. They examined how student’s symptoms of depression and their ability to process emotions influenced each other.
They found that students who lived with a roommate who had unhealthy attitudes and behaviors, also developed similar qualities. Due to this, it greatly increased their own risk of depression. Depressive symptoms themselves were not contagious, but the thinking styles were. At the end of the six-month period, roommates who had developed unhealthy attitudes and behaviors had twice as many depressive symptoms in teens as those who had not picked up on those traits.

Depressive Thinking vs. Positive Thinking

This doesn’t mean that individuals should avoid people with common symptoms of depression in teens. Many teens suffering from symptoms of mental illness feel alone and confused. It is important to support them and make them feel loved. Encourage them to seek help. Depressive thinking isn’t the only thing that is contagious, positive thinking is as well. Try to rub off on people in this way, you have more of an influence than you think.

blueFire Wilderness can help

blueFire is a wilderness therapy program for struggling teens, ages 11 to 17. Our students often grapple with anxiety, depression, and other emotional or behavioral problems. At blueFire, we strive to help each client succeed.
For more information about blueFire Wilderness, please call 1 (844) 413-1999 today!

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