Having friends who suffer from depression doesn’t affect the mental health of others, according to research led by the University of Warwick.
The academics found that having friends can help teenagers recover from depression or even avoid becoming depressed in the first instance.
The findings are the result of a study of the way teenagers in a group of US high schools influenced each others’ mood. The academics used a mathematical model to establish if depression spreads from friend to friend.
Professor Frances Griffiths, head of social science and systems in health at Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, said: “Depression is a major public health concern worldwide. But the good news is we’ve found that a healthy mood amongst friends is linked with a significantly reduced risk of developing and increased chance of recovering from depression.
“Our results offer implications for improving adolescent mood. In particular they suggest the hypothesis that encouraging friendship networks between adolescents could reduce both the incidence and prevalence of depression among teenagers.”