Long commutes and depression go hand in hand

Originally published at: Long commutes and depression go hand in hand | Boing Boing


No surprise. Driving, especially to and from work at times when the traffic is heaviest is incredibly stressful. Currently working a moderately stressful job, with an hour commute each way, and that’s an extra two hours every day when I can’t relax. Given that it’s not an instant ‘get home and now I’m totally relaxed and ready for the next thing’, that makes the majority of my day spent in a high stress environment. It would be more of a surprise if it DIDN’T affect people negatively.


I’m curious about this one. I have a longish commute now but I can take the train most of the way and it’s a heckuva lot less stressful than sitting in traffic even though I can usually get there a little faster if I drive the whole way.


Taking BART isn’t as stressful as driving, but it IS stressful (no physical buffers from other passengers) and can be depressing a/f, if it’s more than 20-30 minutes.

Commuting to and from SF on public transit was absolutely the most draining part of each work day; I’m thankful as hell I don’t have to do it anymore.


True. I had a tough time adjusting from 5-10 walk to 30-40 min drive, and back to walking, and the daily mood couldn’t be more different. Now I’m fully remote and I’ll retire the moment they require me to come back to office. Screw commuting.


And people wonder why I’m always so relaxed. It’s been a long time since I had to do a daily rush hour commute by car or public.

Whatever the mode, this study isn’t going to stop middle managers and commercial landlords from continuing to support back-to-office mandates.


My worst commuting memories from taking the train to/from Philly involved parking (not enough spots for the number of commuters), getting delayed/waiting on the tracks just before reaching the station because of incoming freight trains, trying to leave the office on time to catch an outbound train…

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…and rushing to the platform only to watch three other late trains arrive and depart before mine showed up. :woman_shrugging:t4: Even a drive during the worst rush hour was less stressful than all that on a regular basis.


I don’t mind the train here - if you can get a seat. Which you never can unless you’re boarding at one of the ends of the line. Standing the whole way, with a physical job? No thanks. Cycling was better, but not practical if you’re more than 1/2 hour away. So driving wins, particularly since it’s faster most of the time.


Most of my life I’ve had a commute of at least 45 and as long as 90 minutes. I just accepted it as an essential part of working life. There were times I worked late because I was too tired to face the task of going home. But the virus showed me I could do nearly everything from home, and I am never going back to the office. But I am lucky in that my current position is in a “distributed” company, and I have an excellent home office setup. Many people are not so lucky.


One of the major reasons that I work where I work is that my commute is significantly shorter than my previous one.
When I worked in London’s central Soho, my door-to-door journey was an hour and a half each way, pretty much all of which was on some form of public transport.

Now, it’s significantly shorter. In the morning, it takes around an hour or so, but that’s because I walk to the station every morning, which takes about 20 minutes, and I don’t count that as actually being part of the commute. Actual time on public transport is around 30 minutes. In the evening, I regularly get home in 35-40 minutes taking the train and bus.

The end result is more time to myself and improved mental health, but it’s still not without its stresses.
Even so, the improvement to my quality of life has been so noticeable, I would struggle to ever take a job that required a longer commute ever again.

Thankfully, should I need to work in Soho again at some point, now that we have the Elizabeth line it would make my commute a lot shorter.

But I don’t like what commuting does to me, no matter how short it is. All sorts of little behavioural ticks build up over time as I seek to optimise my commute, and any disruption to my routine noticeably increases stress.
Making sure I get to the station in time so that I can be at the right position on the platform to get a seat; leaving the office just before a certain time so that I avoid the start of rush hour and overcrowded trains; my walk to the station in the morning is because my buses from home to the station just aren’t reliable.

People in London during their commute are total misanthropes, and I’m one of them, which I hate.
We won’t make way.
We’ll steal whatever advantage we can get to make sure we get somewhere fast, including ignoring queue ettiquette.
We’ll put our bags on the seat next to us to prevent someone sitting there.
We’ll cut in front of people at the turnstile.
We’ll grumble out loud at absolutely anyone who pauses for the slightest second delaying us.
And gods forbid you ever stand on the left of the escalator.


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I resemble that remark.


If it’s Korea, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was primarily commuter train. I’ve never lived in Korea, but I imagine it is similar to Japan. I’ve lived there, and morning commute was horrible. The worse I’ve every experienced, by far worse than Moscow, Kyiv, or DC. Those videos of the students packing people into train cars are absolutely true.

My current commute is half car, half metro. Car is slightly stressful, but I have a long list of podcasts to listen to that I enjoy, which mitigates the stress each way. I can usually get a seat on the metro, which means I can read (I’m reading BB now!) or do low level work such as read emails so I get my obligated hours in.

I’m fortunate in that respect. I’d prefer to live within walking/biking distance from work, or permanent WFH, but that isn’t in the cards at the moment.


When I was biking 40 min to/from work each day before COVID, that was the favourite part of my day (except when it was icy). So, yes, I would think transit mode has a huge effect on mental health.


I read once that people adapt less well to a terrible regular commute than they do to loss of a limb.


…women with two or more children and men with none had “significant associations” with depressive symptoms

Not the most important thrust of the article, but an interesting if unsurprising little observation. While obviously we also need to take into account biological causes of depression related to childbirth, it’s probably also a poignant - if sad - demonstration of just how different the experience of family life is between men and women. Sits uncomfortably alongside that statistic showing older men are most happy when married, and older women are most happy when widowed.

Long commutes and depression go hand in hand | Boing Boing

well, on the bright side, at least they aren’t lonely… :hugs:

Adventure Time Halloween GIF by Cartoon Network


So am I! I use to be lucky enough to work for a big tech company that provided busses that covered the majority of my commute. I got to sit in a fairly large seat (frequently unshared) and either work on my laptop, play games (or watch TV or a movie) on my laptop or phone, or talk to others with some similar interests/backgrounds. It was generally very low stress. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing (playing with my dogs, or eating dinner or breakfast), but it wasn’t unpleasant like dealing with stop n’ go traffic.

The bus part of the commute time was well over an hour. I don’t think it was contributing to my depression. I was not depressed for large stretches of time over that period.



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When I had long commutes, audiobooks, when driving, or book books if public transport, made a huge difference.

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