How to Avoid "Catching" a Bad Mood

Tips to become depression-proof, because misery does love company.

A recent University of Notre Dame study of 103 pairs of roommates found that negative thinking patterns can be passed from person to person, just like the flu. “Cognitive vulnerability”—the mindset that you’re at fault for stressful life events and unable to change them—is particularly catching, increasing the symptoms of depression in others even six months later. So, barring the unlikely invention of a depression vaccine, how do we live with depressing people without becoming bummed out ourselves? Try these tips from the experts: Remember, you can only fix yourself. You can’t make someone stop being negative. You can, however, change your own moods and thoughts. “So choose to feel happy or neutral instead of negative,” says J. Kim Penberthy, a University of Virginia associate professor with the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences. Practice compassion. It’s human nature to interpret negative comments as a personal attack. Instead, recognize them for what they are: a sign that someone is suffering. “Don’t take anything personally,” says Tobi Fishel, the director of ps …

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