Living near greenery linked with less depression in teens

Being around trees and other greenery may help teens stave off depression, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Led by Carla Bezold, postdoctoral research fellow in Harvard Chan’s Department of Epidemiology, researchers analyzed data from more than 9,000 teens who began participating in 1999 in a large study of health factors affecting youth in the U.S. The researchers considered information on the teens’ mental health status as well as factors such as substance abuse and race. They used geo-coding to identify where the participants lived and satellite data to determine what sort of environment they lived in, looking at building density and nearness to green spaces and bodies of water.

They found that teens living near the highest-quality green space were 11% less likely to be depressed than their peers who lived around the least amounts of lush greenery. The link between green space and lower odds of being depressed was strongest among middle schoolers.

Other Harvard Chan study authors included Rachel Banay, Brent Coull, Jaime Hart, Peter James, Laura Kubzansky, and senior author Francine Laden.

Read a Washington Post article: Study: Being around trees and other greenery may help teens stave off depression

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More exposure to vegetation linked with lower mortality rates in women (Harvard Chan School release)