Depression and other mental health problems can spread through social networks, up to “three degrees of separation” – or a friend of a friend of a friend, scientists warn.

In a hyperconnected world, traditional social networks – face-to-face contacts of daily life – are unravelling with the loss of social supports, said researchers at the Flinders University in Australia.

This is associated with increasing ‘deaths of despair’ related to alcohol, opiate overdose and suicide becoming more prevalent than ever, according to an article published in The Lancet journal.


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