How You Can ‘Catch’ Depression

and what you can do about it

Key points:

  • Depression can be contagious, especially if we have a tendency towards it in the first place
  • Contagion seems most likely to occur among family members, partners, close friends and colleagues
  • We need to do what we can to inoculate ourselves against ‘catching it’, if we spend a lot of time with a depressed person

“Lucille had told the college for which I am counsellor that she was feeling deeply depressed. It was nearly the end of term, and her father was arriving from New York the next day to take her home to see a psychiatrist. I had been asked by the college to see her before she left.” says Ellen.

She said she no longer felt motivated by anything, yet none of the questions I asked led to expected answers. Yes, she was enjoying her course. Yes, she had made some good friends. She was up to date with all her coursework and didn’t struggle to get work in on time. She wanted a career within the field she was studying.

Gradually a story emerged. She was an only child, felt the burden of expectation and had always, to her memory, been anxious to do well. Still, she had thrived at school and was part of a strong friendship group. However, something had happened there two years previously, which, it now seemed, had dramatically changed her outlook on life. Two friends at the school had tried to kill themselves.


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