The report also highlights that areas with heavy traffic and construction exhibit the highest rates of depression (13.7 percent). Among the residents of these areas, 13.7 percent of women and 11.8 percent of men report experiencing depression. These trends align with findings from other countries, which show a rise in depression among women and an increase in depression with age.
Collectively, these findings suggest a potential vulnerability to increased levels of depression as air quality worsens. Spending time outdoors is typically associated with well-being and reduced adverse mental health outcomes. In Bangladesh, both exposure to PM2.5 and the amount of time spent outdoors contribute to depression.
A systematic review from 2019 found significant correlation between PM2.5 and depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
"With more evidence showing a pronounced impact of climate change on physical and mental health, Bangladesh needs to build on its success in adaptations to ensure a stronger health system that averts outbreaks of emerging climate-sensitive diseases," said Mercy Tembon, the World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, in 2021.
As climate change intensifies and carbon emissions remain unregulated, air pollution will continue to worsen. Given the available data and statistics, it is clear that the youth of Dhaka are highly vulnerable to air pollution, which will not only affect their physical health, but also their mental wellbeing.
Raza, Wameq and Mahmud, Iffat. ‘Breathing Heavy: New Evidence on Air Pollution and Health in Bangladesh – Headline Messages’. World Bank. 2022.
World Bank. ‘Bangladesh: Climate Change is Affecting Health and Mental Wellbeing’. 2021.