Depressing Neighborhoods = Depressed Folk

AMES, Iowa, Oct. 8 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say depressing neighborhoods can keep residents from forming social ties and can negatively affect their mental health.

Researchers Daniel Russell and Carolyn Cutrona of Iowa State University of Science and Technology in Ames say perceived personal risk was amplified in neighborhoods perceived to have high social disorder — or a lack of social ties. The effects of personal risk were muted in neighborhoods with low social disorder.


“The effects of things going wrong in your own life are magnified when you live in one of these negative neighborhoods,” Cutrona says in a statement. “Yet if the same event happened and you were in a more benign neighborhood, your chances of becoming clinically depressed were less.”

“If you’re living in neighborhoods where there’s a lot of crime, gang activities and so forth, you see weaker social ties,” Russell says in a statement. “And it’s clear that in these negative neighborhoods there’s this inverse relationship in terms of their various problems and lack of strong ties.”

Russell and Cutrona have been collecting data from the Family and Community Health Study — an ongoing study of 800 African-American families who live in Iowa and Georgia — started in 1997.

The recent findings were presented at the World Conference on Stress and Anxiety Research held in Galway, Ireland.

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