10 Most Depressing Cities in the U.S.

Whether it’s because “birds of feather flock together” … or due to external factors like weather and unemployment rates, certain regions of the country seem to have more than their fair share of suicide, antidepressant use and other poor markers of mental health that indicate depression.

Can where you live really make or break your psychological well-being?

Not solely … not easily, anyway, as positive personal circumstances can certainly trump any hardship your city of residence may throw your way. That said, depression and mental distress do appear to cluster in certain regions more so than others.

10 Most Depressing Cities

There are various parameters by which to gauge the areas with the highest rates of depression, and the cities that follow run the gamut from high suicide and foreclosure rates to factors like steep taxes and lots of political corruption …

depressing cities10. Newark, New Jersey

More than one-quarter of Newark residents live below the poverty line in areas plagued by violent crime. The city also has the most superfund (majorly polluted) sites in the United States, and if facing serious economic and employment challenges.


9. Las Vegas, Nevada

depressing citiesWith steeply falling home prices and one of the worst foreclosure rates in the country, many Las Vegas neighborhoods have become ghost towns. “Sin City” is also shrouded by high suicide and unemployment rates, and a large number of people feeling the blues.


depressing cities8. Chicago, IL

Brutal commute times, high property taxes and rough winters were significant factors in Chicago’s unhappiness rating, along home prices, political corruption, crime, and unemployment rates.


7. Buffalo, New York


depressing cities

Based on a Gallup poll that found a secular decline in jobs is the largest factor in a city’s depression rating, Buffalo took thetop prize. With significant loss of jobs and income, and a 48 percent decline in manufacturing since 1980, the majority of Buffalo residents report that they are not optimistic about the future.


depressing cities6. St. Petersburg, Florida

Despite year-round sunny weather, the people of St. Pete are plagued by high suicide and unemployment rates, along with a large number of residents using antidepressants and reporting feeling blue all or most of the time.


5. Flint, Michigan

depressing citiesFlint (and nearby Detroit, see below) has been hit hard by the hurting auto industry, with unemployment rates, and violent crime, soaring. The serious decline in jobs has lead to a staggering number of abandoned homes, which the city has been tearing down in an attempt to cut down on crime.


depressing cities4. Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland residents are plagued by quite a few less-than-ideal circumstances, including not only dismal weather and high taxes, but quite a bit of corruption, unemployment, crime, pollution and even mediocre sports teams.


depressing cities3. Stockton, California

With one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, along with soaring rates of violent crime and foreclosures, Stockton residents are facing serious issues that could make just about anyone miserable.


depressing cities

2. Detroit, Michigan

Falling home prices and a slumping economy due to a downtrodden auto industry has lead to closed schools and laid off police officers. This, along with high unemployment and crime rates brings Detroit to the near top of the list.


depressing cities1. Miami, Florida

With an estimated 47 percent of homeowners impacted by underwater mortgages, rampant foreclosures, and high rates of suicide, unemployment rates, violent crime, long commutes, corrupted public officials and antidepressant use, Miamians are struggling with a fair share of mental distress.

What’s the Top Solution to Fight Depression?

If you’re struggling with depression, see a health care professional to discuss your options, but keep in mind that one of the best treatments is one that virtually everyone can do: exercise.

Physical activity appears to alter brain chemistry in similar ways as antidepressant drugs, helping to regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin. Exercise has even been shown to active genes that help lower your body’s stress response.

In one study by Duke University researchers, which compared exercise plus drugs and exercise only to treat depression, the exercise-only group was doing the best 10 months later, leading the researchers to conclude that not only was exercise just as effective as drug therapy in relieving depression symptoms, it also greatly reduced the chances of the depression returning! Researchers concluded:

“Among individuals with MDD [major depressive disorder], exercise therapy is feasible and is associated with significant therapeutic benefit, especially if exercise is continued over time.”

Other research has shown that exercise like aerobics reduces tension, anger and fatigue, and increases feelings of vigor, with the benefits being greatest among those who felt depressed before the workout started.

depressing cities

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Forbes February 2, 2012

Business Insider March 31, 2011

Men’s Health November 28, 2011

Forbes February 2, 2011

Daily Finance August 5, 2010

Reuters.com February 18, 2010

Psychosom Med. 2000 Sep-Oct;62(5):633-8.

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2001 Dec;41(4):539-45.

Filed Under: Emotions
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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3 thoughts on “10 Most Depressing Cities in the U.S.”

  1. Greg Windows says:

    Very interesting facts and having visited some of the cities you mention in the USA, I can see the rational behind it! The last 25 years have given all of us too much, too quickly and high expectations, all fuelled by greedy banks and inept governments. I would be interested to know if you have any similar studies based on UK cities.

  2. Itohan agbontaen says:

    Thanks so much for this mail,so true for now,I guess it has to change somehow once the politicians put country first and the people have to a change of their attitude towards life and share common values ..

  3. Jason says:

    Thank goodness we live in sunny Miami and have beach weather all year round, I think that helps us to keep in good spirits and keep depression away

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