Sunday, October 10, 2010

Is Your Neighborhood Making You Depressed?

Psych Central reports:

When a person feels unsafe and socially disconnected in his own neighborhood, it may lead to depression, say researchers from Iowa State University.

On the other hand, living in an area with strong social ties and low feelings of racism has been shown to improve residents’ moods.

Daniel Russell, professor of human development and family studies, and Carolyn Cutrona, professor and chair of psychology, report that living in a neighborhood with a negative social infrastructure can prevent residents from forming neighborly friendships.

And it’s the absence of these social ties that have a small but significant impact on a person’s mental health.

“If you’re living in neighborhoods where there’s a lot of crime, gang activities and so forth, you see weaker social ties,” said Russell.

“One of the things we tried to assess was essentially community support — to what extent people in that neighborhood turned to others for child care, other forms of assistance — and whether they socialize and know each other. And it’s clear that in these negative neighborhoods there’s this inverse relationship in terms of their various problems and lack of strong ties,” he added.

Regular stressors that everyone experiences are amplified in negative living situations, possibly being the final push into a depressive state.

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