A new animal study published in Nature Neuroscience found that someone else’s stress could mess with your brain as badly as your own stress.
“Recent studies indicate that stress and emotions can be ‘contagious,’ ” Jaideep Bains, a physiology professor at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, writes in a press release. “Whether this has lasting consequences for the brain is not known.”
Though their research was conducted on mice, the study authors believe their findings may apply to humans, too.
“We readily communicate our stress to others, sometimes without even knowing it,” Bain says. “There is even evidence that some symptoms of stress can persist in family and loved ones of individuals who suffer from PTSD.”
But a little stress-sharing is OK. “On the flip side, the ability to sense another’s emotional state is a key part of creating and building social bonds,” he says.