Depression and grey houses linked / News / The Foreigner

Depression and grey houses linked. “Uniformness combined with low light conditions can get to you,” a Norwegian University of Science and Technology researcher tells The Foreigner. Kine Angelo, Assistant Professor at NTNU’s Department of Architectural Design, Form, and Colour Studies, draws her conclusions after having travelled the length and breadth of Norway. Eye strain The trend of painting houses grey, thus eviscerating any colour contrasts, can make people tired, cause headaches, and, in worst case, “lead to depression.”

depression, anxiety, illness, colours, paywall



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Depression and grey houses linked

Published on Thursday, 18th August, 2016 at 11:16 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Sarah Bostock   .
Last Updated on 18th August 2016 at 11:31.

“Uniformness combined with low light conditions can get to you,” a Norwegian University of Science and Technology researcher tells The Foreigner.

Row of grey houses
Row of grey houses
Photo: ©2016 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner


Kine Angelo, Assistant Professor at NTNU’s Department of Architectural Design, Form, and Colour Studies, draws her conclusions after having travelled the length and breadth of Norway.

Eye strain

The trend of painting houses grey, thus eviscerating any colour contrasts, can make people tired, cause headaches, and, in worst case, “lead to depression.”

“We see everything as grey in the evenings or at night because there isn’t enough light to allow the eye to distinguish colours like there is during the day, and you need contrasts to see well,” Ms Angelo says.

“This means the eye must strain itself to detect contrast if everything turns grey, which in turn inhibits our basic need for colour. It’s not about aesthetics, per se.”

The health-affecting phenomenon is mostly particular to the colour grey. It does not affect other monochrome colour schemes such as white, yellow or red to the same degree, explains Ms Angelo, who has 20 years of practice as an interior architect in Norway, specialising in colour in exterior and interior architecture.

“Colours are never experienced alone, but in the context with the surrounding colours – such as facades against sky, nature, and other houses. There are colours in nature,” she adds.

Dulling

Extreme Eeyore
Extreme Eeyore
JD Hancock/Flickr
“It is important to remember why we have evolved to see colours in the first place. The ability to do so allows us to distinguish between object and background, get information about our surroundings, to find food, survive. The eye is looking for, and even trying to enhance contrasts,” says Kine Angelo.

“And too much contrast, i.e. bombarding the eye with stimuli, creates over stimulation. Too little means that the eye is under stimulated and has to strain itself. What is special about monotonous greyness is that we can experience the greyness as being caused by low light levels. Also, the background for many grey houses in Norway is very often a grey, uniform sky.”

In 2010, researchers found that people with anxiety or depression were more likely to associate their mood with the colour grey. Their results, published in the BMC Medical Research Methodology journal, showed that over half of the study’s volunteers picked a shade of grey from a colour wheel to describe their mood. Some 30 per cent of those with anxiety also chose this colour.

Other studies, conducted by scientists at the University of Freiburg in Germany, showed that people with depression found detecting black-and-white contrast differences difficult, with people gripped by despair seeing the world in shades of grey.

One in five

Prozac pills
Prozac pills
Tom Varco/Wikimedia Commons
Meanwhile, a Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) report (from 2009) shows that the prevalence of mental disorders in Norway is high.

According to Senior Advisor Solveig Sakshaug, the level of lifetime prevalence of depressive disorders and bipolar disorder is some 20 percent.

Sales of the main group of drugs that works on the nervous system were NOK 3.3 billion in 2012.

In 2015, antidepressants usage was highest in eastern Norway’s Akershus municipality. 32,164 people (all ages, males and females) were registered as having been prescribed them.  

Lowest was Finnmark municipality in the very North, with 3,780.

And of these figures, Oslo came in highest when it came to using drugs containing Fluoxetine such as Prozac (marketed as Fontex in Norway) – at 1,484.  Finnmark also registered lowest here (171).

No sleep-light link found

Longyearbyen, Polar Night
Longyearbyen, Polar Night
Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/Wiki Commons
Norway, which has previously been named as the third-happiest in the World Happiness Index, is also a country notorious for having less to no daylight during the winter months.

While orally-administered doses of Vitamin D can help with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and lift the mood, there is no correlation between time of year and sleep disturbances, however.

Researchers have stated this in the Seasonal variations in sleep problems at latitude 63°-65° in Norway: The Nord-Trøndelag Health Study 1995-1997 report (“HUNT-2).

“No evidence of a seasonal variation on reports of insomnia symptoms or time in bed was found. These null findings are in marked contrast to previous seasonality studies of sleep,” it reads.

43,045 study participants provided reports of insomnia symptoms and time in bed in all months except July.

(Additional sources: Norwegian Institute of Public Health, US National Center for Biotechnology Information, HUNT Research Centre – Norwegian University of Science and Technology).




Published on Thursday, 18th August, 2016 at 11:16 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Sarah Bostock   .
Last updated on 18th August 2016 at 11:31.

This post has the following tags: depression, anxiety, illness, colours, paywall.





  
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