The Phenomenon of Social Contagion: When Anxiety "Goes Viral" and Becomes Panic

with Dr. Brewer

March 16, 2020

Neuroscientist and psychiatrist, Dr. Jud Brewer, joined Drop The Subject to discuss the phenomenon of social contagion.

Right now there is alot of anxiety flying around that has gone viral creating something called social contagion. Dr. Brewer desribes social contagion as an emotional infection. For example: you aren't in a party mood, but once you get to the party and you see everyone partying then it gets you in the mood to party as well. 

Social contagion comes from coupling fear with uncertainty which creates anxiety because your brain can't predict the future or think and plan. 

Dr. Brewer recommends not drinking or smoking too much. Instead, calm down and practice mindfulness training. Ask yourself what it is that you really need. If you want information on the outbreak then go on a CDC website or a trusted website instead of scrolling through social media for updates.

For people who feel alone: breathe and practice awareness. He also reminded people that there are cats and dogs in shelters who need to be adopted. 

For more on what Dr. Brewer has to say about social contagion check out our podcast and read his article, "A Brain Hack to Break the Coronavirus Anxiety Cycle.