The famous quote goes: tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are. According to a new study, mentally healthy pals can protect you from suffering depression.
Happiness indeed spreads in social circles. This has been shown in a recent study conducted by a team from Warwick and Manchester universities. Based on their findings, those who are close to happy friends can easily cope with depression or even prevent the mental disorder from occurring.
For the study, the team worked with more than 1,500 high school students in the United States. They assessed the moods and behaviors of the teens, especially how these affect the others, using a similar model used to track the spread of a disease.
Based on their analyses, those who keep happy and mentally healthy friends can recover from depressive symptoms within half to a full year. Further, these types of friends can prevent depression among the age group.
But perhaps the more interesting finding in the study is how depression doesn't have the same effect in friendships-that is, depression isn't "contagious."
This is important because of the social stigma that is attached to depression: having a depressed friend can also increase your risk of depression.
According to the lead author Dr. Thomas House who works as an applied mathematics senior lecturer of the University of Manchester, the study shows that social relationships do have an effect on a teen's fight against depression.
Although he's aware that more studies need to be done in this area, he also believes that the findings can be used to help the government and organizations develop cost-effective programs that promote social relationships and interventions.
Based on the data of National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), at least 2.5 million teens between the ages of 12 and 17, or around 10% of the U.S. population, had been diagnosed with depression in 2013.