Does the air pollution in London affect mental health?

We are all very aware that the air in London is extremely polluted but can it affect our mental health?

It’s not a secret that in the past the visible presence of polluted air was a huge inspiration for writers and painters but what about now? Charles Dickens did brilliantly referred to it as a metaphor for the greed and corruption of people. Then the smog was very visible but today it’s no longer so visible at ground level. Regardless of that, the toxic air does indeed have a huge negative impact on mental health, and we should all be aware of that as well.

The impact on our physical health

This topic is very discussed and is recognized. For example, in 1952 the air pollution in London was the reason people had respiratory problems, and research shows that approximately 12,000 deaths were due to air pollution. This phenomenon was named as the ‘‘London’s Great Smog’’.

The impact on our mental health

In comparison to the previous topic, this one is not so much discussed. But this does not eliminate the problem.

Recent research shows that the risk of developing depression is 50 percent higher due to the toxic air we breathe. Depression seems to be the most talked-about mental disorder. Another mental disorder – bipolar disorder, has a 29 percent higher risk of being developed due to polluted air.

Sadly, the chance of developing schizophrenia which is one of the scariest mental disorders is at 147 percent higher due to breathing polluted air.

A Swedish investigation that was recently made revealed that areas, where the air is heavily polluted, have higher rates of prescribed medications for mental disorders.

Why is polluted air so bad for our mental health?

There still isn’t much information and studies that are being made on this topic but one big possibility is that air pollutants enter our bloodstream due to inhalation. Then they reach our brains which causes harmful impacts.

A second discussed possibility is that due to polluted air people spend less time outdoors socializing and exercising which does not release endorphins and other hormones that boost our moods.

How can we change this?

Don’t immediately think that leaving London or other highly polluted cities is going to solve the issue. Moving to the countryside is indeed tempting but guess what – the countryside can be even more polluted than the city. This statistic is indeed very surprising but true.

The impact that people can have on the air is enormous. We can all start with avoiding highly polluting vehicles. We can also be more involved and educate ourselves on the topic of polluted air.