Effects of noise pollution on mental health

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Noise pollution, defined as the spread of unwanted sounds into the environment, can have a range of mental health effects. The brain is always monitoring sounds for signs of danger, even during sleep. As a result, frequent or loud noise can trigger anxiety or stress. With continued exposure to noise pollution, a person’s sensitivity to stress can increase. People living with noise pollution may feel irritable, on edge, frustrated, or angry. If a person feels they cannot control the amount of noise in their environment, its impact on their mental health intensifies1. Environmental noise is also a common cause of sleep disturbance. A person may experience difficulty falling asleep, inability to stay asleep, or waking too early. Sounds can also reduce the depth and quality of sleep, altering the amount of rapid eye movement sleep. This can impact a person’s mood and ability to concentrate1. A study conducted in Sari compared the mental health status of people exposed to noise pollution with people in non-polluted areas. The study found that complaints about physical difficulties, anxiety, and sleeping disorder were at a higher level in areas exposed to noise pollution2. Noise pollution can also affect cognitive performance. Studies show that noise causes cognitive impairment and oxidative stress in the brain. According to Wang et al., with further urbanisation and industrialisation, noise pollution has become a risk factor for depression, cognitive impairment, and neurodegenerative disorders3. Research conducted by Harvard Medicine Magazine shows that noise pollution not only drives hearing loss, tinnitus, and hypersensitivity to sound, but can cause or exacerbate cardiovascular disease; type 2 diabetes; sleep disturbances; stress; mental health and cognition problems, including memory impairment and attention deficits; childhood learning delays; and low birth weight4. In conclusion, noise pollution can have a significant impact on mental health, causing or exacerbating stress, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and cognitive impairments. It is important to take steps to reduce exposure to noise pollution where possible, and to seek professional help if noise pollution is affecting mental health.
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