This might not be an African problem, we’ll leave you to decide at the end of the article, but scientists from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that people who live in places where sightings of rats are a common phenomenon face a heightened risk of suffering from depressive symptoms like sadness and anxiety.
The study arose after residents of Baltimore’s deprived neighborhoods were confronted to report important public health problems and they included frequent exposure to rats in their report. Scientists then proceeded to look at how this contact with rodents could affect the psychological well-being of populations that have to deal with them daily.
They recruited 448 residents for a study aimed at reducing risky behaviors linked to sex and drugs between 2010 and 2011, African-Americans made up to 87% of the study and over half of the subjects were male. They were surveyed on the health issues they faced daily and the state of the environment around them. Of the issues, drug abuse and sexually transmitted infections featured high on their main worries but scientists also discovered that rats were a recurrent problem.
Half of the subjects reported seeing rats at least once a week and 35% reported sightings almost everyday. Of the total, 32% saw the rodents as a real issue and studying that group, scientists discovered that they were 72% more likely to experience acute depressive symptoms, than those who did not see the them frequently or felt that they weren’t problematic.
The lead study author Danielle German says; “This study provides very strong evidence that rats are an under-appreciated stressor that affects how people feel about their lives in low-income neighborhoods. The good news is, it is modifiable. If we can do something to reduce the number of rats in these neighborhoods, we can improve people’s well-being”. So the study is saying that as well as rats being a vector for disease, they are likewise a vehicle for depression and anxiety.
So if you find yourself being anxious and depressed about the sighting of rats, you are pretty normal, and getting rid of all them may improve your mood and outlook on life significantly.