Depression sucks. No one likes to be around someone who is moping and despondent, but can some of that bleak thinking rub off on others? Is it possible to ‘catch’ symptoms of depression just from living with someone?
According to an article in Science Daily, the answer is affirmative. A study from the University of Notre Dame, published in Clinical Psychological Science, found that people who are “cognitively vulnerable”—i.e. respond negatively to stressful happenings in their lives—are more susceptible to depression, even if they’ve never experienced depressive episodes in the past.
Researchers claim that levels of this so-called cognitive vulnerability (CV) are set in early adolescence and remain thus throughout adulthood. However, certain trigger life events, such as major transitions, can make us more vulnerable to depression. In such circumstances, depression may actually be contagious.
Data from 103 randomly thrown together roommates in college were measured at various stages for cognitive vulnerability and depressive symptoms. You guessed it: those with roommates with higher levels of CV reported more depressive symptoms in the future. And conversely, those rooming with someone having lower levels of CV found a decrease in their own levels over time.
So the contagion theory holds up for the most part, meaning that science may be able to change depressive outcomes simply by manipulating environmental conditions.
"Our findings suggest that it may be possible to use an individual's social environment as part of the intervention process, either as a supplement to existing cognitive interventions or possibly as a stand-alone intervention," wrote the researchers. "Surrounding a person with others who exhibit an adaptive cognitive style should help to facilitate cognitive change in therapy."
So there you have it, surrounding yourself with sunny people may actually serve as a crucial defense mechanism.
"Don’t worry, I know what you're thinking: Harry Potter's had a nasty quidditch accident." That was how 14-year-old Jack Carroll’s stand-up comedy audition began on "Britain's Got Talent."
Carroll’s routine, which played on the fact that he has cerebral palsy, had judges on the popular British reality show roaring with laughter. Far from being the “elephant in the room,” the budding comedian used his disability as a source of humour. And if the report in the Huffington Post is anything to go by, his act paid off.
His performance earned a standing ovation from judges, among them miserly Simon Cowell, and audience members. While Little Britain's David Walliams declared the lad a "comedy genius."
"A lot of times in comedy, your weaknesses are your strengths," he said backstage, adding that he uses comedy to "bring joy to the world."
So far his tactics appear to be working. But don’t take our word for it. See for yourself.
Actress Reese Witherspoon was clearly the last to read the freaking memo. When her hubby was arrested for driving under the influence, she apparently pulled the whole ‘Do you know who I am?’ starlet act on the coppers. But happily, it backfired. She and her hubby got booked, with a disorderly conduct charge for Reese.
So much for fame buying you legal leeway. No one is above the law. According to an article in Gawker, the nightmare scenario happened after Reece’s husband, Jim Toth, was found driving with a blood-alcohol level of .139.
When asked if he knew her name, the officer in question rightly responded, "No, I don't need to know your name."
"You're about to find out who I am ... You are going to be on national news," answered Reese in true diva style, momentarily confusing herself with Lindsay Lohan.
She returned to her car but then got back out again and had a pop at the police for taking so long. Movie stars have places to be, people to see, ya know?
But in the end, the officers remained unmoved by her A-list status. Both she and Toth wound up in jail, released on $300 bond, with a court date looming.
Since then, Reese, a mom of three, has sobered up and had a chat with her publicist, who issued this polished statement:
"Out of respect for the ongoing legal situation, I cannot comment on everything that is being reported right now. But I do want to say, I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said. It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. I have nothing but respect for the police and I'm very sorry for my behavior."
Reese should count her lucky stars. Not because she gets to waltz down the red carpet with myriad glitterati, but because her husband didn’t kill anyone while he was behind the wheel.