City-dwellers are prone to depression – are high-rises to blame?

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Health Assured team

17 March 2017

Residents of high-rise blocks tend to suffer from more stress, mental health difficulties and neurosis   Prof Colin Ellard was walking past the rows of new-build towers that dominate the west of central Toronto when he had a sudden realisation. “I was struck by how dark, sombre and sad these new urban canyons made me feel,” he says.   Ellard, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo in Canada who studies the impact of places on the brain and body, wanted to know why he felt like that – and if others felt the same.   His curiosity ultimately led him to conduct a series of virtual reality experiments in which he asked people to wear specialised headsets and stroll through a variety of urban environments created to test their responses. The findings, he says, proved he was not alone. Being surrounded by tall buildings produces a “substantial” negative impact on mood.   Exact from The Guardian Online, read the full article here.   Depression Depression is a serious clinical illness. Health professionals use the terms ‘depression’, ‘depressive illness’, or ‘clinical depression’ to refer to something very different from the common experience of feeling down, miserable, or fed up, for a short period of time.   “I often have little interest or pleasure in doing things.”   The feeling of depression is much more powerful and unpleasant than the short episodes of unhappiness that we all experience from time to time. It goes on for much longer. It can last for months rather than days or weeks. Most people with depression will not have all the symptoms listed here, but most will have at least five or six.   Symptoms You:
  • Feel unhappy most of the time (but may feel a little better in the evenings)
  • Lose interest in life and can’t enjoy anything
  • Find it harder to make decisions
  • Can’t cope with things that you used to
  • Feel utterly tired
  • Feel restless and agitated
  • Lose appetite and weight (some people find they do the reverse and put on weight)
  • Take 1-2 hours to get off to sleep, and then wake up earlier than usual
  • Lose interest in sex
  • Lose your self-confidence and feel useless, inadequate and hopeless
  • Avoid other people, feel irritable
  • Feel worse at a particular time each day, usually in the morning
  • Have suicidal thoughts
  Take care, it is common for us to not realise how depressed we are, because it has come on so gradually. We may be determined to struggle on and can often blame ourselves for being lazy or feeble. Other people may need to persuade us that it is not a sign of weakness to seek help.   When should you seek help?
  • When your feelings of depression are worse than usual, and don’t seem to get any better.
  • When your feelings of depression affect your work, interests and feelings towards your family and friends.
  • If you find yourself feeling that life is not worth living, or that other people would be better off without you.
  It may be enough to talk things over with a relative or friend, who may be able to help you through a bad patch in your life. If this doesn’t seem to help, you probably need to talk it over with your family doctor.   You may find that your friends and family notice a difference in you and are worried about you.

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