Leaving the city for suburban life could trigger depression: Researchers

Cars in heavy traffic lined up in front of the Holland Tunnel in New York

Mental health

May 30, 2023 | 17:32

The suburban American dream could be your worst nightmare.

People who live in the suburbs are more likely to be depressed than those in a concrete jungle, a new study suggests.

Published last week in the journal Science Advances, the study found that sprawling medium-density suburbs with low-rise buildings and single-family homes were at the greatest risk of depression.

Long commutes, fewer open public spaces and low population densities could contribute to the collapse of out-of-town mental health, according to Stephan Barthel, principal urban sustainability researcher at Stockholm University, and Karen Chen, Yale postdoctoral associate in geography, in a report for conversation.

Despite past research, a new study suggests that living in a big city isn’t the worst place for your mental health.

People in the suburbs of low-rise, single-family housing, such as in most suburban neighborhoods, were found to be at higher risk of developing depression.
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The team of international researchers used satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to map the growing urban areas in Denmark over 30 years. Then, they analyzed more than 75,000 residents with depression and more than 750,000 without, noting their location and per capita prevalence of mental illness.

While rural geographic areas did not appear to increase the risk of developing depression, people in the suburbs of single-family and low-rise homes were at higher risk.

Meanwhile, the areas posing the lowest risk were characterized by multi-story buildings in central or suburban locations that had access to open space.

Both rural areas and major metropolitan areas were not as high risk of developing depression as the suburbs have been shown to be.
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The research points to how social humans are, wrote two of the study’s authors for the Conversation.
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The results don’t show a clear correlation between the impact of dense urban areas on depression, Barthel and Chen added. This may be because dense urban centers can provide relatively more opportunities for social networking and interaction which can benefit mental health.

Their findings, which clash with previous research suggesting that mental illness is Moreover pervasive in major metropolises, it indicates how social humans are, the researchers continued.

After all, a certain level of density is needed to create vibrant communities that can support shops, businesses and public transportation while also enabling restoration with the advantage of open space, noted Barthel and Chen, whose research could be a guide. for future urban planning.

The researchers who hope their study will serve as a guide to urban planning said a certain level of density is needed for communities to thrive.
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Barthel and Chen believe that the low-lying suburbs may be in part due to long driving distances, fewer public open spaces, and a density of residents that is not high enough to allow for many local commercial venues for people to congregate, unlike in a large city.
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But the study coincides with a mass exodus from the Big Apple, as frustrated residents cite skyrocketing spending, crime and poor education as reasons for moving.

Even the city’s famous influencers are fed up, as many have fled Manhattan for a quieter life elsewhere.

It’s weird because it seems like it should be so easy to like, make friends in a big city and meet people and date, content creator Callie Wilson previously told The Post, saying she felt so lonely while living in the city that never sleeps.

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