With the new crop-burning season barely starting, the air indices in Lahore and other areas of Pakistan have already worsened. According to recent weather reports, the air index in Lahore touched a whopping 400 during the month of October with a heavy smog continuously hanging over the city. It should be kept in mind the safe limit for the air index is 50 and experts are comparing the present situation equivalent to sitting in a gas chamber.
This is a moment of crisis for the population of Pakistan, because air pollution, not only causes countless physical problems such as lung cancer, breathlessness and skin diseases but is also extremely harmful to the mental health. In this article, we will be explaining the mental impacts of living in an area where the air is severely polluted and how you can avoid them.
What mental health problems does air pollution causes?
New research has brought to light, a link between anxiety and generalized anxiety. This link makes sense too, if the basic psychology of a human is considered. Survival is etched in the human psychology because of all the evolutionary experiences, mankind has had in the past.
So, even though air pollution seemingly does not bring any immediate impacts on a person’s life, it is a very obvious risk factor, when survival is considered in the long run. Psychiatrists believe that when the air is filled with toxic particles so much so that they are visible in the form of smog, a general survival anxiety kicks in.
Anxiety brings stress and stress causes more anxiety. This is a cycle which continues on in case of air pollution. Air pollution triggers anxiety, which in turn activates the fight and flight response and once this response gets tethered to air pollution it can become the constant state of a person. The fight and flight response cause a release of stress hormones in the body and a continuous release of these hormones can easily lead to depression
The most dangerous mental impact of air pollution which has been discovered is its role in encouraging violent behavior in individuals. According to a study conducted by the Colorado State University, the air which is polluted below the safety limit causes aggression and violent behavior in the residents of that area.
The study found out that a 10 microgram-per-cubic meter correlated to 1.4% increase in the crime rate of a residential area. These figures are very concerning, since Pakistani cities are facing hundreds of microgram-per-cubic meter increases of toxins in the air which means that the crime rates can go sky high in just a few months.
Air pollution is a long-term problem and it will only go away when the whole nation strives for it. In the meantime, you can protect yourself from the negative mental impacts of air pollution by seeing a mental health expert for any sort of agitation or stress that you might experience because of the decreasing air quality.
Remember, our mental health is one of the fundamentals of our psychological and physical well-being. While we take due care of our bodies in the smogy season, we tend to ignore the mental health aspects. The purpose of this article was to help understand the other side of the story and highlight the psychological impacts of air pollution.
This article was produced in partnership with oladoc.com, a digital health company in Pakistan. Using oladoc, you can find the best doctor in Lahore, Karachi & Islamabad, and book an appointment online.