Depression risk increases with long-term exposure to air pollution


eMediNexus    12 February 2023

The effects of air pollution on cardiovascular and respiratory diseases have long been known. According to two recent studies that were published in the JAMA network; depression risk increases with continued exposure to air pollution.


One of the studies published in JAMA Network Open showed that elderly persons who are exposed to high levels of air pollution over an extended period are more likely to experience late-onset depression.


The results of the second study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, showed that even low levels of long-term exposure to air pollution were associated with an elevated risk of developing depression and anxiety.


In the first study, researchers investigated the effects of air pollution on older Americans and evaluated the information on over nine million beneficiaries of Medicare, the US government′s health insurance program for persons over 64, and found that more than 1.52 million of them had depression diagnoses.


The study stated that there are statistically significant harmful correlations between chronic exposure to high levels of air pollution and a higher chance of developing depression in later life. Socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals who are simultaneously subjected to social stress and unfavorable environmental conditions have a substantially increased chance of developing late-life depression.


The pollutants to which people were primarily exposed were ozone, released mainly by cars, power plants, and refineries; fine particulate matter, such as dust or smoke; and nitrogen dioxide, primarily caused by traffic emissions.


They emphasized that the elderly were at a higher risk due to their pulmonary and neurological sensitivity, which makes them especially vulnerable to depression associated with pollution. Other incidences, such as cognitive impairment, co-morbid physical illness, and death, may also occur.


In the second study, scientists from China and Britain looked into the relationship between chronic exposure to various air contaminants and the prevalence of depression and anxiety. Over 11 years, they analyzed a group of approximately 390,000 people, the majority of whom were residents of Britain, and found that even at pollution levels below the UK′s air quality guidelines, there was an increased risk for depression and anxiety.


(Source:  https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/long-term-air-pollution-exposure-raises-depression-risk-studies/97819854)

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