Depression is Contagious

How the Most Common Mood Disorder Is Spreading Around the World and How to Stop it
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In Depression is Contagious, Dr. Michael Yapko challenges the commonly held belief that depression is just about biochemistry gone awry. Depression does not just infect a single individual and their biochemistry, but the latest research provides overwhelming evidence that depression is far more a social problem than a medical disease. 

Depression’s effects reach into the interactions you have with others, rippling destructively through marriages, families, work environments and communities like a viral contagion. Drugs cannot repair or protect your relationships from depression, but the skills that Dr. Michael Yapko teaches us in this powerful book can.

Depression is the world’s most common mood disorder, and it is spreading like a viral contagion. You can’t catch depression in the same way you catch a cold, but the latest research provides overwhelming support that moods spread through social conditions, defining depression as more a social problem than a medical illness. Our social lives directly shape our brain chemistry and powerfully affect the way we think and feel—and our brains can change for the better with healthy social circumstances as much as they can change with medication. Drugs may address some of depression’s symptoms, but Dr. Yapko convincingly argues that we need to treat depression at its root, by building social skills and improving relationships, in order to halt the spread of this debilitating disorder.

Filled with practical exercises and illustrative examples, his groundbreaking plan guides readers to identify key social patterns that reinforce depression so they can learn the skills to overcome depression and even prevent new episodes from occurring.

Provocative and controversial as well as prescriptive and hopeful, Depression Is Contagious investigates the social phenomenon of depression’s epidemic-like spread while offering a more realistic road to recovery.

Chapter 1:   Depression Doesn’t Arise in a Social Vacuum: The Social Foundation of Depression

Chapter 2:   Other People are NOT Just Like You: Frames of Reference, Flexibility and Acceptance

Chapter 3:   Expectations and Relationship Satisfaction: Learn to Assess Others Realistically

Chapter 4:   Thinking Too Much and Too Deeply: Learn to Take Action

Chapter 5:   Don’t Bring Others Down with You: Learn to “Lighten Up”

Chapter 6:   Self-Deception and Seeking the Truth: Learn to Test Your Beliefs

Chapter 7:   Drawing the Lines: Protext Your Personal Boundaries

Chapter 8: Marriage Can Save Your Life: How to Keep Yours Healthy

Chapter 9:  Hand-Me-Down Blues: Learn to Reduce Your Child’s “Depression Inheritance”

Chapter 10: Afterword

In this brief clip from 2009, Dr. Michael Yapko describes his book, Depression is Contagious

Dr. Yapko was well ahead of the curve in highlighting the social nature of depression. With the COVID pandemic and the current research documenting that depression is NOT about a serotonin or a chemical imbalance in the brain, people are beginning to recognize what Dr. Yapko has been saying for decades.  

Reviews of Mindfulness and Hypnosis

Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me and co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic

“Finally – a book that takes on the root causes of depression. Its surptinsingly hopeful message: We don’t need to turn first to powerful drugs, but instead to eah other. Wheter you are struggling with anxiety and depression yourself or helping some else, this book is packed with practical advice on how to combat negatie feelgs. In fact, the stellar advice here is tremendously userul even to those who are not depressed but simply dealing with life’s usual challenges. This is the best and most comprhensive guide I have seen to combating depression on your own – which should always be the first step.”

Mary Pipher, Ph.D., psychologist, author of Reviving Ophelia, The Shelter of Each Other, and Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World.

“Yapko takes a clear, fresh look at an ancient subject. He thinks about the subject holistically, compassionately, and creatively. While respectful of feelings, he urges readers to think and act their way out of depression. He argues that kind intentional behavior will not only cure depression but heal relationships and build a community of loving family and friends (the best antidepressant on the market). Amen, brother, Amen.”


“Michael Yapko rejects the prevailing line that depression is a brain disease caused by malfunctioning neurons and chemicals. Instead, he says, depression about relationships. We are fundamentally social animals, and when our social worlds are not working, our mental health suffers. Yapko helps us understand how bad relationships can cause depression; he also is brave enough to tell us how depression can wreck our social skill and ruin our relationships with others. Yapko then teaches the skills to help people change their ways of relating to others and as a result prevent or overcome depression. This is a courageous, enlightening, and useful book. Anyone who suffers depression, or is in a relationship with a depressed person, will find this book very valuable.”

Michele Weiner-Davis, M.S.W., author of Divorce Busting and Change Your Life and Everyone in It.

“Move over Prozac, bring on the real depression antidote – RELATIONSHIPS. Best book I’ve ever read for depression-proofing one’s life! If you or someone you know is in the depths of despair, buy this book and several more for friends! Everyone needs to learn Dr. Michael Yapko’s concrete, psychobabble-free approach for choosing, cultivating, and maintain relationships that provide lifelines for hard times and sustenance for living. At last, the real antidepressant/wellness prescription – ‘Take 50 milligrams of love and call me in the morning.’ I love this book!”