Connect with us


Research shows that living near green spaces reduces the risk of depression and anxiety




Research shows that living near green spaces reduces the risk of depression and anxiety

Green space in front of the author’s home. Credit: Wang et al.

In recent decades, a growing number of people have migrated to urban areas, while the size and population of rural areas have declined dramatically. Although parks and other green spaces are often seen as beneficial to the well-being of people living in cities and urban regions, very few studies to date have examined the impact of these spaces on mental health.

Researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China recently conducted a study on the possible link between long-term exposure to green spaces near one’s home and two of the most common mental disorders: depression and anxiety. Their findingspublished in Nature mental healthsuggest that living near parks and green areas can reduce the risk of becoming depressed and experiencing anxiety.

“Our research interest is environmental epidemiology, which mainly focuses on the impact of environmental exposure, such as greenery and air pollutants, on human health,” Yaohua Tian, ​​co-author of the paper, told Medical Xpress. “There seems to be a consensus on green space that greenery can reduce stress and improve mood. However, this was just an idea that was ingrained in our minds, and it was not clear to us whether there was any scientific evidence to support this.”

Tian and his colleagues first reviewed previous studies on the link between proximity to nature and mental health. They found that there were only a few articles on this topic and that the available articles had produced inconsistent conclusions.

“We therefore analyzed a large cohort to investigate the effects of long-term exposure to greenery in homes on the risk of depression and anxiety,” Tian said. “We then further tested and compared the potential pathways through which greenness could influence mental health.”

As part of their study, the researchers analyzed data collected from 409,556 people and stored in the UK Biobank database. They specifically looked at the distance between participants and green areas, in combination with their self-reported wellbeing scores, as well as hospital admissions, hospitalizations and deaths in their residential area.

“We assessed the level of greenery around each participant’s home address within a radius of 300 meters, 500 meters, 1,000 meters and 1,500 meters,” Tian explains. “We then assessed their risk of developing mental illness over a period of approximately twelve years, which was determined by national data on the death register, hospital admissions, primary care and self-reports.”

The results of the analyzes conducted by Tian and his associates suggest that there is a link between long-term proximity to green residential areas and the incidence of both depression and anxiety. Specifically, they suggest that living closer to parks and other green areas reduces the risk of experiencing both depression and anxiety.

“We draw the important conclusion that long-term exposure to greenery in homes is associated with a reduced risk of depression and anxiety, and that reduced air pollution in the greenest areas likely plays an important role in this trend,” Tian said. “Our study thus implies that expanding urban green spaces could promote good mental health.”

The findings from this work could soon inspire other research groups to investigate the link between long-term exposure to natural environments and human mental health or well-being. Collectively, these works can provide guidance for future urban planning efforts, encouraging governments to invest in new parks or expand existing green areas.

“We now plan to conduct similar studies in different populations and areas, including China,” Tian added. “We are also considering conducting serological detection studies to further investigate the physiological mechanisms linking green environments to mental health.”

More information:
Jianing Wang et al., Long-term exposure to greenery in homes and reduced risk of depression and anxiety, Nature mental health (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s44220-024-00227-z.

© 2024 Science X Network

Quote: Study shows living near green spaces reduces risk of depression and anxiety (2024, April 23), retrieved April 23, 2024 from depression-anxiety.html

This document is copyrighted. Except for fair dealing purposes for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.