Life elevated: investigating the association between altitude and depression

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Publication Type honors thesis
School or College College of Social & Behavioral Science
Department Anthropology
Faculty Mentor Ryan Schacht
Creator Arave, Mariah
Title Life elevated: investigating the association between altitude and depression
Date 2018
Description The purpose of this research is to explore the relationship between altitude and depression. Evidence obtained from previous studies show that hypoxia can cause changes in the levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, potentially affecting mental health. There is also a region in the western United States known as the "Suicide Belt" where rates of suicide and depression are high; some researchers say that this demonstrates the association between the two variables. To evaluate this claim, I created a survey to assess symptoms of depression while also collecting information on respondents' residential altitude and controlling for other variables that could cause depression. The Personal Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ9) was used to quantify the severity of respondents' levels of depression. Respondents were also asked about their zip code, age, sex, LGBTQ+ status, and racial identity. In order to obtain data to test for changes in altitude, respondents were also asked if they had moved in the past year, what their previous zip code was, and if they experienced symptoms of depression when traveling at least 1000 feet higher or lower than their altitude of residence. The data was analyzed using a Poisson regression model. Elevation was found to be significantly and positively correlated to PHQ9 score. These results indicate that elevation may play an important role in the high levels of suicide and depression seen in states like Utah that make up the Suicide Belt.
Type Text
Subject University of Utah
Language eng
Format Medium (c) Mariah Arave
Format Extent application/pdf
Permissions Reference URL
ARK ark:/87278/s6z37b01
Setname ir_htoa
Date Created 2020-05-15
Date Modified 2020-05-15
ID 1551231
Reference URL
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