Researchers are increasingly studying the effects of environmental insults on psychiatric and neurological conditions, motivated by emerging evidence from environmental events like the record-breaking smog that choked New Delhi two years ago. The results of a new study published in the PLOS Biology suggests a possible link between exposure to environmental pollution and an increase in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders.
The researchers found that poor air quality was associated with higher rates of bipolar disorder and major depression in both US and Danish populations.
Although mental illnesses like schizophrenia develop due to a complex interplay of genetic predispositions and life experiences or exposures, genetics alone do not account entirely for variations in mental health and disease. Researchers have long suspected that genetic, neurochemical and environmental factors interact at different levels to affect the onset, severity and progression of these illnesses.