Good Moods Are Contagious In Teens (And Prevents Depression)

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soul dance

As I blogged about last week… mood is not just something that colors our day.

Our moods actually make a huge difference in our projected lifespan… this is now a medical fact!


On the heels of that study, yet another study was published just last month (August 19, 2015 in the Proc Biol Science) revealing that a positive mood among teens is not only “contagious” and spreads among peers…

… but is also associated with enhanced recovery from depression and decreased future risk of depression.

And even better, the reverse is not true: depressed mood does not appear to be contagious or increase a teen’s risk of depression.


It turns out, our teens are resilient and are actually more open to positive mood states than to negative ones!


Supporting and encouraging positive friendships in your teen’s life has the effect of not only boosting their mood, but of significantly reducing over all risk of clinical depression as well as doubling the probability of recovering from existing depression.


The details:

  • Using the same models that are used in preventive medicine to assess the spread of infectious disease, researchers evaluated over 3,000 teens enrolled in US high schools.
  • Mood was assessed by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.
  • Followed for 12 months, there was a statistically significant *transmission* of health mood for teens who were surrounded by friends with a positive mindset.
  • Teens with 5 or more healthy friends had half the risk of developing depression, and teens with 10 or more healthy friends were twice as likely to recover from a depressive episode.
  • And happily, there was no statistical significant *transmission* of depressed mood for teens surrounded by friends with a negative mindset.

This is a HUGELY effective intervention — if there was a pill that would cut the risk of depression in half for all teens… and that same pill also made recovery from existing depressive episodes twice as effective… the pharmaceutical companies would be all over that and QUICKLY.


But even better… encouraging healthy friendships is a healthy, natural, holistic, non-medicinal way to create resiliency in your teen.

I find it incredibly interesting that positive, healthy mood states fit into mathematical statistical models… spreading and replicating via human contact… while negative mood states do not.


Me with my teen!
Me with my own teen!

So… is a good mood a contagion?



Turns out, positive mood spreads in a similar way to a contagious or infectious exposure.

So worry less and support your teen’s friendships and joy more… that’s the bottom line from this study.




If you are concerned about your teen’s mind-frame, encourage them to get connecting:

play sports

join clubs

connect with friends

connect with family

connect with their community

and connect with therapists or other supportive mental health professionals if necessary…


…because medical studies prove that being around others with a good mood helps not only in the short term (transforming the energy of that interaction) but is protective over time to help decrease both incidence and prevalence of depression.

And as we know from last week’s medical study, being optimistic (and parenting from an optimistic view point!) will add YEARS to your own life.

Now that’s win-win!

xoxox, Laura


P.S. — other things you can do to holistically decrease risk of depression in your teen?

Here are some links to previous blog posts that will help!

1. Up This One Mineral To Up Your Mood

2. Probiotics An Alternative To Antidepressants

3. The Healthiest Way To Release Stuck Emotions

4. Nurture Your Own Health Through Difficult Times

5. Vit D and Mood — Fabbo Study Results