NOT SURPRISINGLY, mountain towns are endorphin factories. Breathtaking vistas provide a daily backdrop for runners, pedalers, skiers, and hikers alike. With all these good vibrations floating around in high-altitude locales like Park City, enjoying good mental health should be simple, right? If only this were true 100 percent of the time.
A 2015 University of Utah study revealed that living with hypobaric hypoxia, the reduced oxygen experienced at high altitude, is a risk factor for depression. Findings that support a sobering statistic from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: in 2012, the eight Intermountain West states—Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico—had suicide rates exceeding 18 per 100,000 people, compared with the national average of 12.5 per 100,000. But rather than turning immediately to pharmaceuticals for relief, local experts are advising their clients to adopt a seasonally deliberate approach to exercise, nutrition, and rest—both for the body and mind; a lifestyle prescription that may help some become more resilient to the downsides of living on high.
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