South Korean researchers have found a link between commuting and depression symptoms. Who is most vulnerable?
People have different opinions about returning to working on-site after a long period of remote working due to the pandemic. Some individuals missed the office environment and the opportunity to interact with colleagues in person, while others preferred working from home. However, almost everyone agrees they did not miss the daily commute, particularly the long ones.
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Recently, a scientific paper was published on sciencedirect.com, which confirms the link between depression symptoms and the length of the commute. Researchers from South Korea have observed a similar correlation between commute length and depressive symptoms to those previously discovered by researchers from China and South America.
Long commutes linked to depression
The study involved more than 23,000 employees aged between 20 and 59 years. Dr Dong-Wook Lee and his team looked at the links between commuting time and symptoms of depression. They also took into account other factors that may be linked to depression, such as gender, age, education, income, marital status, children, occupation, weekly working hours or shift work.
After adjusting for all these additional variables, it was found that people whose commute time is longer than an hour were 16% more likely to suffer from clinical depression than those who took less than 30 minutes to get to work.
It's important to mention that the study was correlational, meaning it examined the relationship between varying commuting time and depressive symptoms. The researchers discovered that within the study group, the occurrence of depressive symptoms went up in parallel with an increase in commuting time.
It's important to note that the study didn't establish which factor was responsible for the relationship between commuting and depressive symptoms and which one was the effect. Additionally, other factors could contribute to the association that the study didn't explore. This highlights the complexity of depression and the need to consider all potential factors.
According to Korean researchers, people with less leisure time may struggle to relieve stress and combat physical fatigue through sleep, hobbies, and other activities. Additionally, those who have long commutes tend to have less time to invest in healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercise, which can worsen symptoms of depression.
Source: vice.com, sciencedirect.com