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Location Influences Your Mental Distress Level

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Increased mental distress may be somehow influenced by where you live, suggests a new study. There is an uneven distribution among groups of people who experience frequent mental distress (FMD), based on geographic location.

Frequent mental distress is defined as experiencing depression or emotional upset for more than fourteen days in the previous month. The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, showed that certain geographic locales are associated with greater frequencies of mental distress.

Data from surveys conducted 1993-2001 and 2003-2006, collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was used to obtain the study results. Variances were found in the incidence of frequent mental distress, related to time and geographic location within individual states.

The two studies included more than 1.2 million people, conducted as part of the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The study was broken up into counties, and takes into account results influenced by variations in less populated counties.

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Average frequent mental distress was 9.4%. The survey showed a one percent increase in overall mental distress between the first and second study in 27 states. Surveys from people living in Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia showed a four percent increase in frequent mental distress, comparing the first and second survey. Living in the Appalachian and the Mississippi Valley areas showed increasing and high rates of mental distress.

The least amount of mental distress was found among those living in the Midwest –the incidence of frequent mental distress actually declined from the first to second survey.

Dr. Matthew M. Zack, lead investigator for the study suggests living in an area that does not meet health and social service needs may explain why frequent mental distress varies with where people live. “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 study article, titled Geographic Patterns of Frequent Mental Distress: U.S. Adults, 1993 and 2003 may help communities develop strategies to eliminate mental distress associated with where people live, through awareness of the causes.

Reference: Elsevier