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Medicine Science

Is Your Mood a Result of Where You Live? 364

Ed writes "Apparently, the Centers for Disease Control released a study indicating that geography can have a significant impact on mood. You may not be surprised to learn that Kentucky is more depressing than Hawaii. However, ranking up there with Hawaii are Minnesota, the Dakotas and Wisconsin. Frustratingly, they have not yet published the study on the web, so it is left as an exercise for the reader to find the original study and post a link for the rest of us."
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Is Your Mood a Result of Where You Live?

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  • Re:My mood? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @08:00PM (#27592781) Homepage

    Personally, I prefer noisy places to silent places. I currently reside part of the year in Finland, and the taciturn nature of the people and the strict noise laws only add to the depression caused by the lack of sunlight and long winters. When I leave Finland for somewhere like Cairo or Hong Kong, it's like rejoining civilization.

    Back in the 1960s, Larry Niven (in World of Ptaavs, now collected in Three Books of Known Space [amazon.com] ) suggested that the future will get ever noisier, thanks to a rising population and people living closer together in the metropolis, necessitating changes in human evolution. Well, nowadays sound-proofing materials and noise-canceling headphones are getting cheaper and cheaper, so noise is a nuisance that can be overcome.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @08:11PM (#27592877)

    My university network has fulltext access to the journal. The journal article doesn't seem to be available yet, but the publisher's press release [elsevier.com] is. From the Dread Publisher Elsevier:

    San Diego, CA, 14 April 2009 - Frequent Mental Distress (FMD), defined as having 14 or more days in the previous month when stress, depression and emotional problems were not good , is not evenly distributed across the United States. In fact, certain geographic areas have consistently high or consistently low FMD incidence, as shown in a study published in the June 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

    Combining data from annual large-scale surveys in 1993-2001 and 2003-2006 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found that the adult prevalence of FMD was 9.4% overall, ranging from 6.6% in Hawaii to 14.4% in Kentucky. FMD prevalence varied both over time and by geographic area within states. From the earlier period to the later period, the mean prevalence of FMD increased by at least 1 percentage point in 27 states and by more than 4 percentage points in Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia. The Appalachian and the Mississippi Valley regions had high and increasing FMD prevalence, and the upper Midwest had low and decreasing FMD prevalence.

    The state-based Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) has asked questions about mental health since 1993 and collects data from random telephone surveys of adult residents across the U.S. More than 1.2 million people were surveyed in each of the two periods. FMD prevalence was determined by county, and the results were smoothed to reduce variation from random sampling due to small sample sizes in less populous counties.

    For the 1993-2001 period, the smoothed FMD prevalence was less than 8% in 31.8% of the 3112 counties analyzed and was 12.0% in 4.8% of the counties. For the 2003-2006 period, the smoothed FMD prevalence was "Because FMD often indicates potentially unmet health and social service needs, programs for public health, community mental health and social services whose jurisdictions include areas with high FMD levels should collaborate to identify and eliminate the specific preventable sources of this distress," said Dr. Matthew M. Zack, the study's lead investigator. "With the growing scientific literature linking FMD to treatable mental illnesses and preventable mental health problems, the increased use of these surveillance data in community mental health decision making is especially warranted. The continued surveillance of mental distress may help these programs to identify unmet needs and disparities, to focus their policies and interventions and to evaluate their performance over time."

    The article is "Geographic Patterns of Frequent Mental Distress: U.S. Adults, 1993-2001 and 2003-2006" by David G. Moriarty, BS, Matthew M. Zack, MD, MPH, James B. Holt, PhD, Daniel P. Chapman, PhD, MSc and Marc A. Safran, MD, MPA, DFAPA, FACPM. It appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 36, Issue 6 (June 2009) published by Elsevier.

  • Hm, I dunno. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aztektum ( 170569 ) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @08:15PM (#27592913)

    I moved FROM Wisconsin to Oregon 5 years ago and I have to say my life is far more diverse now, far more cheery. When I deal with people from "back home" they don't seem to be happy so much as living in willful ignorance.

    I guess what I'm saying is my anecdotal experience is that people in the "more depressed" regions are more aware of their true mood and perhaps answer more honestly because of it?

  • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @08:34PM (#27593031)

    Live in a crappy neighborhood makes for crappy moods? Lemme be the first to tell the CDC: DUUUH!

    I don't know how many times I've read of someone discovering a self-reenforcing feedback loop of one kind or another and reporting it as a hitherto unknown and insightful fact.

    Life, as many people have spotted, is, of course, terribly unfair. For instance, the first time the Heart of Gold ever crossed the galaxy the massive improbability field it generated caused two hundred and thirty-nine thousand lightly-fried eggs to materialize in a large, wobbly heap on the famine-struck land of Poghril in the Pansel system. The whole Poghril tribe had just died out from famine, except for one man who died of cholesterol-poisoning some weeks later.

    The Poghrils, always a pessimistic race, had a little riddle, the asking of which used to give them the only tiny twinges of pleasure they ever experienced. One Poghril would ask another Poghril, "Why is life like hanging upside down with your head in a bucket of hyena offal?" to which the second Poghril would reply, "I don't know, why is life like hanging upside down with your head in a bucket of hyena offal?" to which the first Poghril would reply, "I don't know either. Wretched, isn't it?"

  • Sounds about right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @08:43PM (#27593089) Journal

    I live in Southern California. A few years ago I went to stay with some family in Milwaukee. I was there for about a week and one of the things that I noticed was how much more relaxed everyone was. The pace of life was really different. People seemed to take their time getting places and nobody really seemed to be in a big hurry to get anywhere. When waiting in line at places, there wasn't an urgency to get to the front. People took the time to talk to each other. It seemed like for the most part nobody had anything else better to do, and they were all living in the moment.

    I had an interesting experience when I got back to LA. After I got off of the plane, I was walking through the airport at Wisconson speed and seemed like people were hurrying by me. None the less, my mind was still in vacation mode and I was enjoying the tranquil feeling that was still with me. I got my car out of the parking lot and proceeded to drive home. As soon as I had to merge onto the freeway, I felt the rush of the rest of the world catch up with me. All of a sudden my brain kicked into high gear. It was like a survival mechanism. There was no way I could deal with the 405 freeway while in the Wisconson mindset.

    Conversely, I know people who have grown up in Southern California who then leave and hate where they end up. Almost universally, those who leave and miss California all say almost the same thing. "Everything here is too slow. There isn't enough to do." Personally, I can't wait to get out of here. I think the pace of life here sucks.

  • Re:Hm, I dunno. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @09:01PM (#27593227)
    I would say you're spot on. I lived in Illinois for a few years, and (Chicago excluded) the place is cultural desert full of boorish hicks who not only rarely leave the town they are born in, but are also proud of infrequently leaving the town they were born in. They tell themselves and their community reinforces that whatever their existence may be it's 'good enough'.

    However when you start looking at places with more education per capita and more cultural depth, people there are likely to be aware of the wider world and perhaps be annoyed with how little of it they may be financially empowered to see.
  • by NaNO2x ( 856759 ) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @09:11PM (#27593293)
    I am from Seattle and it is common knowledge here that weather has a relation to feelings. At one point the city was #1 for depression and it has been shown that this is because of the constant overcast weather. People have taken to sticking their heads in light boxes to relieve the depression.

    Anyway, the point of all this is that the article was poorly written and is common sense. Also, it is sunny in Seattle right now and there are probably people who still have their head in a box.
  • Re:Parents' basement (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cool_arrow ( 881921 ) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @09:13PM (#27593301)
    What if you live there for free and your mom gives you money for beer?
  • Re:Hm, I dunno. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @09:46PM (#27593457)

    I'm originally from WI too and I'm going to have to disagree. Little known fact, WI has more golf courses than almost any other state, it has the largest water parks, and a ton of recreational lakes for fishing and/or skiing. Keep in mind that most of those activities can only be done for 4 or 5 months out of the year. Then there's all the winter activities for the rest of the year. People in WI just know how to get out and have fun.

    Oh... and WI is also the drunkest state per capita. That might have something to do with it too.

  • "Lonely people back in town. I saw it in the supermarket and at the Laundromat and when we checked out from the motel. These pickup campers through the redwoods, full of lonely retired people looking at trees on their way to look at the ocean. You catch it in the first fraction of a glance from a new face...that searching look...then it's gone.

    We see much more of this loneliness now. It's paradoxical that where people are the most closely crowded, in the big coastal cities in the East and West, the loneliness is the greatest. Back where people were so spread out in western Oregon and Idaho and Montana and the Dakotas you'd think the loneliness would have been greater, but we didn't see it so much.

    The explanation, I suppose, is that the physical distance between people has nothing to do with loneliness. It's psychic distance, and in Montana and Idaho the physical distances are big but the psychic distances between people are small, and here it's reversed.

    It's the primary America we're in. It hit the night before last in Prineville Junction and it's been with us ever since. There's this primary America of freeways and jet flights and TV and movie spectaculars. And people caught up in this primary America seem to go through huge portions of their lives without much consciousness of what's immediately around them. The media have convinced them that what's right around them is unimportant. And that's why they're lonely. You see it in their faces. First the little flicker of searching, and then when they look at you, you're just a kind of an object. You don't count. You're not what they're looking for. You're not on TV.

    But in the secondary America we've been through, of back roads, and Chinaman's ditches, and Appaloosa horses, and sweeping mountain ranges, and meditative thoughts, and kids with pinecones and bumblebees and open sky above us mile after mile after mile, all through that, what was real, what was around us dominated. And so there wasn't much feeling of loneliness. That's the way it must have been a hundred or two hundred years ago. Hardly any people and hardly any loneliness. I'm undoubtedly over-generalizing, but if the proper qualifications were introduced it would be true..."

  • MN, SD, and AZ (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @10:49PM (#27593801)

    I've lived in Minnesota, South Dakota (western & eastern), and Arizona, and it never ceases to amaze me how different lifestyles are from place to place. I think a lot of people's happiness issues could be solved by moving to a culture more suited to their personality.

    I have SAD, and in MN/eastern SD I had horrible winter time depression. Just moving to western SD where the sun shines through most of the winter made an incredible difference!!! I really liked the winter time there, at least as compared to Minnesota. The culture there also suited my tastes better. SD has a very low population density, which makes a difference, and like another poster mentioned earlier about Wisconsin, the pace of life is much slower and more relaxed. People there were always friendly, you could easily strike up a conversation with the guy next to you in line, and random folks would look out for you if you were in a bind. That's amazing.

    However, even though SD is sunny, my ancestry is from the middle-east and I am physically designed for a warm climate. Moving to Arizona was the ultimate realization of my American-continent destiny. :) I have never been happier.

    In the end, what I'm trying to say is, listen to what your body and mind are telling you. If you don't like where you're at, think hard about WHY you don't like it, and try to find a place that suits you better. If you don't like it, you can always go back.

  • Re:Hm, I dunno. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Malc ( 1751 ) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @11:25PM (#27593973)

    Have you considered that perhaps there's a difference between people who stay in one place all their lives, and those that migrate to somewhere else? I'd never go back to where I'm from, even though I know people who are happy there, and it's supposed to be one of the better parts of the country to live in. Except for the ones who've taken charge of their lives (a minority), they all seem to make mountains out of molehills over issues that I think are non-starters these days.

    As somebody's who taken charge of your life and moved somewhere else, you've already proven a different mindset to those back where you came from. Furthermore, you're probably meeting people more akin to your current mindset, so your world is already an easier or different place to cope with.

    There's something to be said for troubles being internal and relocating with you. But when you relocate, you have to build your life up again and sometimes you learn new behaviours or break out of bad habits or ruts. You're definitely more open to change when you move environments, which I think is key to a healthy life. Those who resist change or try to control it are doomed to struggle and perhaps unhappiness.

  • Re:Sunlight? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Malc ( 1751 ) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @11:32PM (#27594001)

    Exercise too. I moved from Denver (300+ days of sunshine per year) to just up the road from you in London. I think the first winter we had three months of grey overcast skies, which I found very tough. The second winter was still, but not so bad. Then I moved a little further up to Toronto which wasn't as grey. I've always found the winters there far easier though, which I think is more to do with me cycling and running all year around. If you get out in the winter properly, the winter isn't as bad. And those occasional days of low wind but brilliant sunshine when you can run by the lake with light reflecting of white snow and blue water, in light clothing even if it's below -10, are really really uplifting.

  • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @12:07AM (#27594191)

    budweiser is czech

    Budweiser is the Germanized form of the Czech word Budiwoyz. Anheuser-Busch did a piss-poor job of imitating the beer made there.

    Anyhow, Staropramen Lager is infinitely superior to Urquell and Budvar.

    you noob

    Prague was a great city when I visited it in my early 30s, more than 10 years ago...

  • Most Livable Cities (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pgn674 ( 995941 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:01AM (#27594697) Homepage
    A related article is from Forbes: America's Most Livable Cities [forbes.com]. They rate the Portland, Maine metropolitan statistical area as the most livable city based on income growth, cost of living, crime, leisure, and unemployment.
  • Re:My mood? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:37AM (#27594983)

    Having lived in a noisy, dense city in Asia I've found I prefer that environment over where I live now. But I realized there is a distinction. In the city there was a constant din of background noise so it was rare for individual sounds to really stand out.

    On the other hand, for years I lived in more of a semi-urban environment, I guess the best way to describe it is a border area between quieter suburbs and a busier, lower-income area. The noise was annoying as hell because it would be fairly quiet much of the time but then some inconsiderate ass would come along with a booming car sound system or start honking the horn at 3am because they're too lazy to get out of the car and ring a door bell.

    I live a few miles from that area. It's not quite like nicer, more rural suburbs but it definitely is much quieter than where I used to live. However, now any sound punctuates the silence far more dramatically and I have the misfortune of having college students as neighbors who like to come and go at 3am.

    Needless to say I am very sensitive to sound, and find myself longing for the constant din of a big city or the complete silence of the woods. One interesting I observed whenever I'd leave the country where I lived was how oppressive the silence and lack of movement seemed. I could feel it having a depressing affect on me until it subsided about a week or two later. I don't think I felt sensory overload going the other way, but every so often I was struck by how active things were and how overwhelming they could be.

    I suppose there were problems with that kind of life. But I found myself feeling far more inspired there in Asia than I do here. There was a lot to see, a lot going on and what I felt like attempts at creativity everywhere. A lot of it failed, but there was a lot less of the bland templates so prevalent in the US. I'm convinced if someone blind-folded you and dropped you in front of a shopping center virtually anywhere in the US you'd be hard-pressed to know where you were. But that starts getting into a whole other subject.

    I do find myself more depressed here and have regretted moving back. But I'm not sure how much of it is due to actually living here and how much is for more personal reasons.

  • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blackest_k ( 761565 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:15AM (#27595307) Homepage Journal

    yes I did it too and I'm happier and healthier too but to be honest its kind of obvious when you think about it.
    If your not happy in a place then theres only a couple of things that can improve, a better job and a new lover both of these are held back due to your state of mind.
    If your not happy who's going to want to be with you?

    So a change of location can raise the spirits give a positive outlook and make you more attractive to others and possibly improve your job prospects.
    I guess it doesn't always work out but you can always go back or go forward just don't sit in the same rut being miserable.
    you get one life make the most of it.

  • Re:My mood? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neurovish ( 315867 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:15AM (#27597239)

    Really? From Florida Statute 316.293 [state.fl.us]:

    (2) OPERATING NOISE LIMITS.--No person shall operate or be permitted to operate a vehicle at any time or under any condition of roadway grade, load, acceleration, or deceleration in such a manner as to generate a sound level in excess of the following limit for the category of motor vehicle and applicable speed limit at a distance of 50 feet from the center of the lane of travel under measurement procedures established under subsection (3).

    (a) For motorcycles other than motor-driven cycles:
            Sound level limit
            Speed limit
    35 mph or less Speed limit
    over 35 mph
    Before January 1, 1979 82 dB A 86 dB A
    On or after January 1, 1979 78 dB A 82 dB A

    (b) For any motor vehicle with a GVWR or GCWR of 10,000 pounds or more:
            Sound level limit
            Speed limit
    35 mph or less Speed limit
    over 35 mph
    On or after January 1, 1975 86 dB A 90 dB A

    (c) For motor-driven cycles and any other motor vehicle not included in paragraph (a) or paragraph (b):
            Sound level limit
            Speed limit
    35 mph or less Speed limit
    over 35 mph
    Before January 1, 1979 76 dB A 82 dB A
    On or after January 1, 1979 72 dB A 79 dB A

    There is also

    (a) No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle or any other noise-abatement device of a motor vehicle operated or to be operated upon the highways of this state in such a manner that the noise emitted by the motor vehicle is above that emitted by the vehicle as originally manufactured.

    These are of course rather spottily enforced, and if you looked at the statistics I'm sure you'd find a large number of import cars cited and a much smaller number of domestics and motorcycles.

  • by weston ( 16146 ) <(gro.lartnecnnac) (ta) (dsnotsew)> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @06:02PM (#27604263) Homepage

    Small psychic distance between people has its problems as well as benefits, I think that's true. But I also think the idea that the secondary America fits the political stereotypical rural-urban dichotomy is problematic, and while Palin was able to manipulate a certain identity, I especially think that the idea that Sarah Palin accurately represents it is false. For one thing, there were no shortage of people from Wasilla who were ready to criticize her. That may be different from how the rest of the country responded to their idea with her, but the responses through the rest of the country were as much an artifact of the primary America media filters as anything else. There's also considerable indication that Palin had been living herself inside the primary America narrative herself for a while -- accounts of her run for mayor strongly suggest that she abandoned local policy-focused politics and instead brought in the national culture war narratives.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford