Wednesday December 19, 2018

City Upbringing Without Pets May Increases Risk of Mental Illness

Pet-free city upbringing raises mental illness risk: Study

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People raised in cities without pets at risk from mental illness
Simple ways to keep pets warm in winter. Pixabay
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Children raised without pets in an urban setting are more vulnerable to mental illness than those raised in a rural environment, surrounded by animals and bacteria-laden dust, says a new study.

Kids raised in rural settings may grow up to have more stress-resilient immune systems and might be at lower risk of mental illness, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The study adds to mounting evidence supporting the “hygiene hypothesis,” which posits that overly sterile environments can lead to health problems.

The research also suggests that raising kids around pets might be good for mental health.

“It has already been very well documented that exposure to pets and rural environments during development is beneficial in terms of reducing risk of asthma and allergies later in life,” said study co-author, Christopher Lowry, Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the US.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“This study moves the conversation forward by showing for the first time in humans that these same exposures are likely to be important for mental health,” Lowry added.

For the study, led by Professor Stefan Reber of the University of Ulm in Germany, the scientists recruited a small group of healthy German men between ages 20 and 40. Half had grown up on a farm with farm animals. Half had grown up in a large city without pets.

On test day, all were asked to give a speech in front of a group of stone-faced observers and then asked to solve a difficult math problem while being timed.

Blood and saliva were taken five minutes before and five, 15, 60, 90 and 120 minutes after the test.

“People who grew up in an urban environment had a much-exaggerated induction of the inflammatory immune response to the stressor, and it persisted throughout the two-hour period,” Lowry said.

Also Read: Check out Instagram Profiles of Paw-some Indian Celebrity Pets!

Previous studies have shown that those with an exaggerated inflammatory response are more likely to develop depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) later in life.

Research has also shown that our immunoregulatory response to stress develops in early life and is shaped largely by our microbial environment.

More than 50 per cent of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, meaning humans are exposed to far fewer micro-organisms than they evolved with, the authors noted.

“If you are not exposed to these types of organisms, then your immune system doesn’t develop a balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory forces, and you can develop a chronic, low-grade inflammation and exaggerated immune reactivity that makes you vulnerable to allergy, autoimmune disease and, we propose, psychiatric disorders,” Lowry said.  IANS

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Nature Gives You A Major Boost In Improving Your Mental Health

From previous experimental studies we knew that physical activity in natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood and mental restoration.

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Mental Health
Cycling, walking in nature may improve your mental health. Pixabay

People who commute — walking or cycling — through natural environments are more likely to develop better mental health than those who commute less, according to a new study.

Natural environments included all public and private outdoor spaces that contain ‘green’ and/or ‘blue’ natural elements such as street trees, forests, city parks and natural parks/reserves and all types of water bodies.

“Mental health and physical inactivity are two of the main public health problems associated with the life in urban environments. Urban design could be a powerful tool to confront these challenges and create healthier cities. One way of doing so would be investing in natural commuting routes for cycling and walking,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen from the University of Barcelona.

Mental health
Cycling can reduce your loneliness, boost mental health. Flickr

For the study, published in the journal, Environment International, the research team examined nearly 3,600 participants who answered a questionnaire about their commuting habits and their mental health.

The findings showed that respondents commuting through natural environments on a daily basis had on average a 2.74 point higher mental health score compared to those who commuted through natural environments less frequently.

This association was even stronger among people who reported active commuting, the team said.

Mental Health
Mental health and physical inactivity are two of the main public health problems associated with the life Pixabay

“From previous experimental studies we knew that physical activity in natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood and mental restoration when compared to the equivalent activity in urban environments,” said first author Wilma Zijlema from the varsity.

Also Read: ADHD May Be Improved With Support And Self- Regulation: Study

“Although this study is the first of its kind to our knowledge and, therefore, more research will be needed, our data show that commuting through these natural spaces alone may also have a positive effect on mental health.” (IANS)