NOV 22, 2017 5:12 AM PST

Is Your Neighborhood Making You Anxious?

Real estate agents say that it's all about location, location, location. While it's true for home sales, it could also be true for mental health.

A recent study from researchers at the University of Cambridge suggests that where you live could impact your risk of having an anxiety disorder. The association was seen in women; however, no corresponding risk to men was found.

An anxiety disorder can be crippling. Everyone deals with some form of anxiety or worry from time to time. When it reaches the level of excessive fear, avoidance of social situations or public places, it's classified as a mental health issue. In the United States, estimates are that close to 40 million people suffer from an anxiety disorder. It's the most common mental illness. While it's highly treatable with therapy and medication, only about 1/3 of patients with an anxiety diagnosis get treatment. There is no one specific cause of anxiety; often it's a mixed bag of genetics, brain function, and traumatic events.

Because there are so many factors involved in anxiety, it's not entirely understood by many health professionals. There are hardly any studies that focused on the place of residence and anxiety issues, even though living in areas with widespread poverty has been shown to contribute to some medical conditions and a shorter life expectancy.

Scientists from the Cambridge Institute of Public health wanted to look at the relationship between anxiety and living in deprived areas. To get data on this, they studied questionnaires completed by residents in the area of Norwich, in east England. Nearly 21,000 people had completed the survey between 1993-2000 which included questions on lifestyle, health, nutrition, and well-being. The data collected was part of the EPIC-Norfolk study, which was undertaken to study dietary factors and cancer risk.

Their result showed that one in 40 women and one in 55 men had Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Among the women living in the poorest area covered by the study, the risk of having GAD was 60% higher than women living in more affluent areas. In men, there was no increased risk between those in poor areas and those in more affluent neighborhoods.

Study first author Olivia Remes is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care. She explained the results in a press release, stating, "Anxiety disorders can be very disabling, affecting people's life, work, and relationships, and increasing the risk of depression, substance misuse and serious medical conditions. We see from our study that women who live in deprived areas not only have to cope with the effects of living in poverty but are also much more susceptible to anxiety than their peers. In real terms, given the number of people living in poverty worldwide, this puts many millions of women at increased risk of anxiety."

There could be many factors at play in the higher rates of anxiety in women. Their engagement in their communities, the fact that women often have jobs outside the home and are still the primary caregivers for their children and have more of a burden regarding domestic chores were some of the reasons the researchers thought might contribute to the increased risk. The team stressed that more work is needed regarding gender and mental health and that environmental factors like location should also be considered.

Sources: University of Cambridge, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, British Medical Journal

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
AUG 25, 2020
Neuroscience
Study Shows Exercise Relieves Major Depression
AUG 25, 2020
Study Shows Exercise Relieves Major Depression
Depression is a common mental condition that many feel at some point throughout life. While antidepressants work for som ...
SEP 05, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Moderate Cannabis Use in Teenagers Reduces Cognitive Abilities
SEP 05, 2020
Moderate Cannabis Use in Teenagers Reduces Cognitive Abilities
From studying adolescent siblings, researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine have found that modera ...
SEP 27, 2020
Neuroscience
Computer Reads Peoples' Minds to Generate Images
SEP 27, 2020
Computer Reads Peoples' Minds to Generate Images
Researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland have found a way to generate images on computers by monitoring br ...
OCT 21, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Exercise Reverses Learning Impairments from Cannabinoid Issues
OCT 21, 2020
Exercise Reverses Learning Impairments from Cannabinoid Issues
While cannabinoids usually get attention for their recreational effects, these molecules play a role in several other pr ...
OCT 30, 2020
Neuroscience
Why Older People Lose Motivation to Learn
OCT 30, 2020
Why Older People Lose Motivation to Learn
Researchers from MIT have identified a brain circuit that may explain why, as people age, they tend to lose motivation t ...
NOV 24, 2020
Neuroscience
Computer Mouse Movements Predict Risk-Taking Behavior
NOV 24, 2020
Computer Mouse Movements Predict Risk-Taking Behavior
Researchers from Ohio State University have found a way to measure people’s appetite for risk-taking behavior from ...
Loading Comments...