Saturday December 15, 2018

Greening Vacant Lots can Reduce Depression in Urban Areas

The findings support that exposure to more natural environments can be part of restoring mental health, particularly for people living in stressful and chaotic urban environments

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Greening vacant land is a highly inexpensive and scalable way to improve cities and enhance people's health.
Greening vacant land is a highly inexpensive and scalable way to improve cities and enhance people's health. Pixabay
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Greening sidewalks, parks and vacant or dilapidated spaces could be an important and inexpensive tool to help address the rising cases of depression, anxiety and stress in urban communities, suggests a study.

“Dilapidated and vacant spaces are factors that put residents at an increased risk of depression and stress and may explain why socioeconomic disparities in mental illness persist,” said lead author Eugenia South, Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the US.

“Greening vacant land is a highly inexpensive and scalable way to improve cities and enhance people’s health… while mental health therapies will always be a vital aspect of treatment. Revitalizing the places where people live, work and play may have broad, population-level impact on mental health outcomes,” added Charles Branas, Professor at the varsity.

In an experiment, published in JAMA Network Open, the research team measured the mental health of 342 Philadelphia residents before and after 541 vacant lots had been converted into green spaces as well as residents living near untreated abandoned lots, and those that just received trash clean-up.

In neighbourhoods below the poverty line, the feelings of depression among residents who lived near green lots decreased significantly by more than 68 per cent.
In neighbourhoods below the poverty line, the feelings of depression among residents who lived near green lots decreased significantly by more than 68 per cent. Pixabay

They found that people living within a quarter of a mile radius of greened lots had a 41.5 per cent decrease in feelings of depression compared to those who lived near the lots that had not been cleaned.

Those living near green lots also experienced a nearly 63 per cent decrease in self-reported poor mental health compared to those living near lots that received no intervention.

“What these new data show us is that making structural changes, like greening lots, has a positive impact on the health of those living in these neighbourhoods. And that it can be achieved in a cost-effective and scalable way,” Branas said.

Also Read: HIV Drug Is Not Linked to Depression: Study

In neighbourhoods below the poverty line, the feelings of depression among residents who lived near green lots decreased significantly by more than 68 per cent.

“The findings support that exposure to more natural environments can be part of restoring mental health, particularly for people living in stressful and chaotic urban environments,” the researchers said. (IANS)

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Cinema, Museums Can Keep Older Adults Away From Depression

For the study, the researchers studied more than 2,148 adults above 50

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Depression
Cinema, museums may ward off depression risk in elderly.

Regular exposure to cultural activities like cinema, theatre or museums can keep older adults away from depression, finds a new study.

Depression is a major issue affecting millions of people, especially the elderly.

The study showed that people who saw films, plays or exhibitions every few months had a 32 per cent lower risk of developing depression, with those attending once a month or more having a 48 per cent lower risk.

“People engage with culture for the pure enjoyment of doing so, but we need to be raising awareness of their wider benefits too,” said Daisy Fancourt, Senior Research Associate from the University College London in the UK.

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Depression is a major issue affecting millions of people, especially the elderly. Pixabay

The power of these cultural activities lies in the combination of social interaction, creativity, mental stimulation and gentle physical activity they encourage, according to the study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

If we are starting to feel low or isolated then cultural engagement is something simple that we can do to proactively help with our own mental health before it gets to the point where we need professional medical help, according to Fancourt.

Also Read- YouTube Removes 7.8 mn Violative Videos

“However, such activities on their own don’t treat depression. This requires an approach based on the use of talking therapies, complemented by the use of medication where an older person does not respond or when they have more severe depression,” noted Amanda Thompsell from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

For the study, the researchers studied more than 2,148 adults above 50. (IANS)