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Moony blues

People in quasi-isolated work environments like polar stations or the moon experience higher levels of depression, says a study.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 23, 2007 18:31 IST

Being employed on the moon in the not too distant future can cause both depression and anxiety, says a study by Rutgers University.

According to Chester Spell, an associate professor of management at the Rutgers School of Business Camden, the lunar settlements of tomorrow or, for that matter, the space stations of today carry long-term implications for the mental health of employees working in isolation for extended periods. Depression and anxiety will reach new levels among those employees, creating mental and cardiovascular health problems as well as a sharp decline in productivity.

If it sounds far-fetched, Spell notes that existing research already finds that workers in earthbound, quasi-isolated work environments, such as remote Australian mining towns or Antarctic stations, experience higher levels of depression.

Spell presented his research about the mental health implications of working in a lunar settlement during the Rutgers Symposium on Lunar Settlements, held in New Brunswick between June 3 and 8.

One scenario, based on recent research by the Rutgers-Camden management scholar, suggests that depression experienced by one worker will spread among the rest of the employee base.

While Spell's research was not conducted in an isolated environment, he notes that under such conditions it is likely that social interaction among team members is even more critical since team members are the only source of support.

First Published: Jun 23, 2007 14:49 IST