Does air pollution cause depression?
As we know respiratory ailments, such as asthma, COPD, cardiovascular disease, and most recently, lung cancer, have all been related to increased exposure to air pollution.
But do you know air pollution also has a significant impact on our mental health?
Can depression or anxiety be a result of poor air quality?
Research shows that mental health conditions may actually worsen due to prolonged exposure to toxic air.
What is Air Pollution?
The degradation of indoor and outdoor air quality is referred to as “air pollution.” Air pollution is caused by several air contaminants that are suspended in the atmosphere. A contaminant may cause different types of harm to certain populations.
Exposure to air pollution, particularly during adolescence, has been shown to hinder the growth and development of the brain and body. Inside the body, excessive levels of ozone (O3) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are likely to impair brain development.
The symptoms of depression may get exacerbated due to air pollution. The inflammation brought on by the contaminants in the air irritates the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is crucial for memory, mood, and learning. This causes depressive symptoms and mood changes in people.
The brain is a vital organ that aids in the body’s operation. When increasing air pollution makes it more difficult for the brain to function, the entire body is harmed. The lungs, kidneys, liver, eyes, and other organs of the body are all impacted by air pollution.
Depression is a significant mental health issue that frequently contributes to morbidity. The disorder is linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain that is brought on by stress, life events, a confluence of biological, psychological, and social elements, as well as the physical effects of air pollution and other factors. Depression has many causes, although some of them are yet to be well-understood. It is impossible to assess the disease’s toll in terms of human misery. Some people go through seasonal bouts of depression, especially during the winter.
How increased air pollution levels cause depression symptoms?
The level of a stress hormone named cortisol is increased in the human body during exposure to increased air pollution, which in turn can lead to mental illness. It also has an impact on our dopamine levels, also known as the “happy hormone,” in the brain. Fluctuating Dopamine levels can bring about the following symptoms:
- Low mood
- Loss of interest in your activities
- A sense of worthlessness
- Mental diseases and other mental health symptoms
Depression is a significant mental health illness marked by a lingering sense of despair. The WHO states that it can be caused by a “complex combination of social, psychological, and biological variables.” Depression is typically a condition that affects those who have gone through difficult times in their lives.
Some of its notable signs and symptoms are as follows:
- Sadness, irritation, and an empty feeling
- Absence of enthusiasm in hobbies or interests
- Ineffective focus
- Sleeping problems
- Alteration of Weight and Appetite
- Fatigue or poor energy
Factors that Cause Depression Symptoms in teenagers
Teenage depression and sadness may be correlated with ambient O3 exposure. Teenagers who are exposed to O3 for a longer period of time may develop depression symptoms, lack of interest, and social withdrawal.
A teenage brain is impacted due to high levels of O3 and other contaminants in the outdoor air. Outdoor air pollution plays a major role in contributing this contaminant. Adolescents are more susceptible to the negative impacts of these pollutants as their brains are still developing.
Children who live in areas with high levels of air pollution find it challenging to maintain a healthy brain and central nervous system. As a result, their bodies struggle with basic functions. These comprise of fundamental cognitive and fine motor abilities, as well as verbal and writing skills, etc. They are at a higher risk of suffering from mental health symptoms, which undermines their confidence and frequently triggers sadness.
Teenage depression is linked to air pollution. Air pollution can contribute to teen depression. Children who are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or sadness are more susceptible to the negative impacts of air pollution. This implies that compared to a child without mental illness issues, a child experiencing anxiety or depression is more sensitive to air pollutants. Teenagers are experiencing higher levels of melancholy, stress, loneliness, and other mental health issues, which is leading to an increase in the prevalence of mood disorders, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and other problems.
Air Pollution and Reproductive problems
In addition to the bodies and brains of young people, the hormonal balance in young boys and girls is also impacted by rising air pollution levels. Increased NO2 levels can affect the reproductive health of both men and women. All hormonal balance in developing adolescents is controlled by the brain. The pituitary and hypothalamus are in charge of making the hormones necessary for reproduction. Air pollution may obstruct this procedure. As a result, women could have irregular menstrual cycles. Both male and female reproductive health is impacted by stress.
Particulate matter causes oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, which can result in depressive symptoms. It seems obvious that there is a link between air pollution and depression, and this correlation seems to be growing rapidly as population rise.
Taking steps to improve household ventilation by switching to low emission cookstoves and using the Airth filtration system, an Anti-Microbial Air Purification Technology capable of capturing and deactivating 99.99% of contamination in the air including germs, viruses and unseen particles.
Air pollution can have an impact on teens’ bodies because their bodies and minds are still developing. Teenagers’ bodies already undergo a number of changes. Their natural bodily processes can be altered by air pollution, leaving them more vulnerable to illness.
Air pollution can make respiratory conditions, cognitive function, depressive symptoms, and panic attacks worse.
The way we live, and the surroundings have a big impact on how stressed and depressed teenagers are. As a result, exposure to air pollution affects biological processes other than those related to mental health.