Study: Depression more common in family living in suburbs than city
According to existing research, people living in urban areas in Western Europe and the US find themselves at a 39% higher risk compared to those living elsewhere.
But a new study published in Science Advances has found that some urban areas are better than others.
Although dense city areas generally have more noise, air pollution, and tall buildings, people living in the suburbs are more likely to be depressed than their downtown counterparts. Why?
The Danish researchers behind the new study argue that the higher risks of depression found in the suburbs may be due in part to long car journeys, less public open space and a lack of local shopping centers where people can to gather together.
Why do inner cities seem better for mental health?
"Taller buildings or denser urban form may benefit mental health through increased population and opportunities for social interaction," the study explains.
"Social interactions create a sense of community, reciprocity, and trustworthiness, which are factors positively associated with mental well-being and protective against depression."
The study concludes that access to open green space and interaction appear to be the two keys to preventing depression and serious mental illness.
This shows that urban spatial planning can have an impact on public mental health. Researchers note that high-rise building schemes interspersed with large green spaces can alleviate depression. Of course, this study has its limitations.
It was conducted by analyzing urban areas in Denmark, and thus "may not be directly applicable to all other countries" as "socio-environmental factors of mental well-being depend on cultural and geographical contexts".