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Leaving the city for suburban life could trigger depression: researchers

The suburban American dream could be your worst nightmare.

People living in the suburbs are more likely to be depressed than those in a concrete jungle, a new study suggests.

Published last week in the journal Science Advances, the study found that medium-density, sprawling suburbias with low-rise buildings and single-family households were at greater risk for depression.

Long commutes, less public open space and lacking population density could be contributing to plummeting mental health outside the city, according to Stephan Barthel, a principal researcher of urban sustainability at Stockholm University, and Yale postdoctoral associate in geography Karen Chen, in a report for the Conversation.

Cars in heavy traffic lined up ahead of Holland Tunnel in NYC
Suburb neighborhood with American flags hanging off front porches
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The team of international researchers used satellite images and artificial intelligence to map growing urban areas in Denmark over 30 years. Then, they analyzed more than 75,000 residents with depression and over 750,000 without, taking note of their location and per capita prevalence of the mental illness.

While rural geographies did not appear to increase the risk of developing depression, people in “low-rise and single-family housing suburbs” were at the most risk.

Meanwhile, areas that had the lowest risk featured multistory buildings in “central locations,” or suburbs that had access to open spaces.

Rural area in Arizona
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Suburban neighborhood during fall
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“The results show no clear correlation that dense inner city areas impact on depression,” Barthel and Chen added. “This may be because dense city centers can provide relatively more opportunities of social networking and interaction – which may benefit mental health.”

Their findings, which clash with prior research that suggests mental illness is more pervasive in major metropolitans, point “to how social human beings are,” the researchers continued.

“A certain level of density is after all necessary to create lively communities that can support shops, businesses and public transport while at the same time allowing restoration with the benefit of open space,” noted Barthel and Chen, whose research could be a guide for future urban planning.

Woman walks alone across a street
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LA street light with backdrop of the city
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But the study coincides with a mass exodus from the Big Apple, as frustrated residents cite sky-high expenses, crime incidences and poor education as reasons for relocating.

Even the city’s notable influencers are fed up, as many fled Manhattan for a quieter lives elsewhere.

“It’s weird because it seems like it should be so easy to like, make friends in a big city and like meet people and go on dates,” content creator Callie Wilson previously told The Post, saying she “felt so lonely” while living in the city that never sleeps.