Live in the city? Study links noise and air pollution with depression in old-age

Childhood factors, such as low income households, were also found to increase the risk of depression. Source: Getty.

As cities continue to expand and the population continues to grow, it can be difficult to escape noise and air pollution, particularly if you don’t live regionally.

However a new study has revealed that living in a busy and polluted area could significantly increase your risk of suffering from depression in old age by a third, with scientists claiming that exposure to toxic air could alter your brain.

The study, carried out by the University of Edinburgh and recently published in the Preventative Medicine journal, found that people over the age of 50 who were exposed to “nuisances” in their local area, such as noise, crime and poor air quality, were more likely to experience ill mental health.

More than 10,000 people, between the ages of 50 and 95, from 13 European countries, participated in the experiment, with researchers questioning them every two years over the span of decade, from 2004.

Participants were asked about the access they had to services, such as pharmacies, supermarkets and public transport, as well as the environment of their current neighbourhood, including pollution and crime levels. Where they grew up was also taken into account.

Their level of depression was then measured according to a 12-point scale made up of 12 measures, such as irritability, appetite and tearfulness.

The study revealed that signs of neighbourhood nuisance increased the risk of depression by 36 per cent, whereas those who had better access to services reported 22 per cent lower odds for developing depression as they aged.

It was also found that ‘stressors’ experienced during childhood, including living in a low income household, significantly raised the risk of depression.

Concluding the study, the authors commented that “providing access to neighbourhood amenities and public transportation, as well as reducing environmental problems in the residential area” could help support “healthy ageing”, while it was also put forward that living in a place with good transport links, among other services, could protect against poor mental health later in life.

What are your thoughts on this study? Do you think where you live can have such a significant impact on your mental health?

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.

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