Man walking near a factory and checking the air quality index

Does air quality play a role in depression?

Several factors can contribute to the onset of depression, and air quality is one of them. Indeed, people exposed to air pollution are at greater risk of developing depressive symptoms. It is therefore important to take measures to reduce pollution and protect mental health.

Air quality and depression: state of play

Child wearing an air pollution mask, looking at a green potted plant in the street

Does air quality play a role in depression? According to a study published in 2019 in the journal Psychiatry ResearchAir pollution is thought to be responsible for the onset of depression in adults. The authors of This study, conducted over 5 years on a sample of 284 young Londoners, estimates that air pollution is responsible for 20 % of diagnosed cases of depression.

In particular, the study found that air pollution caused behavioural and cognitive disorders (CBD) in 15 % of these young people. Another worrying fact is that exposure to high levels of fine particles and nitrogen dioxide could increase the number of depressions and CBDs fourfold.

If these results are confirmed by other studies, they could have considerable implications for public health, as air pollution is a major health problem in many countries.

Air quality and depression: the causes

Depression is a common mental disorder with multiple and often complex causes. In some cases, air quality may play a role in the development of depression. Indeed, many studies have shown that people exposed to polluted air are at greater risk of developing depressive symptoms.

Fine particles and toxic gases can have negative implications for the brain. This is because, air pollution can cause inflammation of the brain, which can disrupt the functioning of neurotransmitters and promote the onset of depression. Degraded air quality can also reduce the production of protective substances in the brain, which increases the threat of developing neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression.

Léon Bérard Centre | Air pollution and the consequences on our health, how to act?

Air quality and depression: the consequences

The main adverse health effects of air pollution include respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Studies have also shown that air pollution is associated with an increased risk of sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, headaches and attention problems. More recently, a study has suggested that air pollution may also play a role in the development of depression.

To better understand why air pollution is dangerous to our mental health, it is important to know that air pollution is composed of fine particles and toxic gases, such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. These substances can enter the lungs and the bloodstream, where they can have adverse health effects. Several studies have shown that long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with an increased risk of developing depressive symptoms. The use of a air quality sensor However, it can be identified early enough to counteract its negative effects on health.

Depression is a common mental disorder characterised by a sad mood and a loss of interest in usual activities. People with depression often have physical manifestations such as fatigue, sleep disturbances and headaches. Depression can be mild, moderate or severe. It can last a few weeks or several years and is most often treated with medication, therapy and lifestyle changes.

Impact of air pollution on the lungs

Furthermore, it is noted that poor air quality can affect mental health in several ways:

  • It irritates the airways and causes physical symptoms that can worsen the depression.
  • It reduces the amount of sunlight entering the atmosphere, which leads to a decrease in the production of vitamin D, which is essential for our mental well-being.
  • It reduces the quality of sleep. People with depression often have difficulty sleeping, and air pollution can exacerbate these difficulties.
  • It contributes to a variety of diseases, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
  • It aggravates the symptoms of certain diseases, including chronic diseases.
  • It has a negative impact on mental and emotional well-being and contributes to gloom.
  • It can also have an impact on cognition and behaviour. Studies have shown that air pollution can lead to a decrease in concentration and memory.

All these impacts demonstrate that it is now urgent for us and our children to take action to reduce air pollution and improve indoor air quality (through air purifier for the kitchen for example), as well as outdoors (by wearing a respirator).

Air quality and vacuum: solutions

Air quality is an important factor in the quality of life. It can have an impact on people's health and well-being. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce air pollution. Some of the most effective are:

  • Reducing energy consumption. This can be achieved by driving more smoothly, limiting unnecessary travel and using more efficient electrical appliances.
  • The use of clean modes of transport. The concept here is based on the simple fact that you move as often as possible using public transport, by walking or cycling.
  • Improving air quality. It can be achieved by installing air filters on its VMCThis will be achieved by planting trees and reducing industrial pollution.

Acting today to breathe better and live better tomorrow is no longer a question of desire, but a notion of common sense. If, like us, you believe that air pollution is a major public health problem, then take the time to make your family and colleagues aware of a more eco-responsible attitude, less polluting and conducive to physical and mental well-being.