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Depression Can Be Contagious
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Something I have long suspected, just from life experience and observation, has now been confirmed by research done at Notre Dame University.

They studied people who were experiencing the slings and arrows of life, with particular attention being paid to those difficulties and tragedies where people have no control over events, where there are factors they can't change.

Some people saw those factors and events as a reflection of themselves, their own shortcomings and ineffectiveness. Those close to them tended to mirror those feelings and become vulnerable and depressed themselves, often as much as six months later.

The researchers called it "cognitive vulnerability"--in my view, a kind of empathy turned inside out--and they identified it as a high risk factor for future depression, arising for themselves after the friend's immediate crisis had passed.

I would see it as most likely to occur in individuals high in empathy and compassion who also have weak ego boundaries, uncertain ego strength. So the feelings bleed over, and the friend is unable to separate him/herself from the other's woes and subsequent depression.

My experience is that the remedy can be found in exercise of mindfulness. Being aware of one's vulnerability in this area and maintaining boundaries without guilt must be a lifelong practice, from adolescence to old age.

BTW, optimism is contagious, too.

Mindfulness is good; life is a journey.

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