Thin air may raise depression risk
Living in the thin air in the U.S. states around the Rockies may increase a person's chances of devleoping depression, according to a study at the University of Utah.
The researchers found that female rats exposed to high-elevation conditions — both simulated and real — exhibited increased depressionlike behavior. The behavior could have been due to the animals experiencing hypoxia, a condition in which an individual gets insufficient oxygen, the researchers said. Serotonin, the brain chemical that contributes to happiness and wel-lbeing is naturally produced less in female mammals, including humans and rats. And, according to the study's lead author, Dr. Perry Renshaw, hypoxia can impair an enzyme involved in producing serotonin.
the researchers acknowledged that there were many factors to consider when it came to diagnosing depression, but that in the mountain states, insufficient oxygen should be included as a possible risk factor and be treated accordingly – as current antidepressant treatments may not be effective.
In 2012, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico all had suicide rates exceeding 18 per 100,000 people, while the national rate was 12.5 per 100,000 people, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.