Can Access to Greenspace Protect Against Psychotic Experiences?

A new study explores environmental predictors of psychotic experiences and finds exposure to natural environments could prevent psychosis.


In urban settings, the heightened susceptibility to psychotic experiences is not just a result of population density but a result of a myriad of individual-specific social and environmental factors.

A new study, led by Moana Beyer from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, identifies the key variables of an individual’s urban environment that contribute to developing psychosis.

Her research found that individual-specific social environmental factors were the strongest predictors of psychotic experiences, including childhood adversity, recent stressful events, social isolation, and low household income.

Most notably, she found that exposure to natural environments could prevent and treat psychosis.

This study aimed to predict psychotic experiences (PEs) by identifying the key variables characterizing an individual’s urban environment. PEs seem to be associated with and potentially arise from an accumulation of social and environmental stressors. We identified five variables that consistently emerged as important across feature selection methods and dataset splits, i.e., childhood adversity, stressful events in the past two years, social isolation, age, and exposure to natural environments. Population density was not selected as a predictor of PEs,” the authors explain.
“This study’s most novel and noteworthy finding is the evidence supporting the protective role of exposure to natural environments against PEs.”

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  1. For me the most healing thing about being in nature is the quiet, as well as not being surrounded by a civilization filled with pressure to be somewhere you’d rather not go, or pressure to be around people you really can’t stand. The constant noise and feeling of overwhelm in urban environments are often toxic to environmentally sensitive people, whereas natural environments are characterized by a non-threatening atmosphere, which is soothing to the mind and body.

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