Turcot Interchange work could lead to depression and anxiety, psychologists say

Some psychologists are warning that exposure to major long term construction projects, such as the new Turcot Interchange, could lead to depression and anxiety.

Some residents say endless barrage of construction noise is becoming unbearable

The work on the Turcot Interchange isn't scheduled to be completed until 2020. (CBC)

Some psychologists are warning that exposure to major, long-term construction projects, like that currently enveloping the Turcot Interchange, could lead to depression and anxiety.

The work on the largest road construction project in Quebec history has ramped up this month and isn't scheduled to be completed until 2020.

Many people living near the Turcot Interchange construction zone in Montreal's St-Henri neighbourhood have been complaining about loud noise coming from the site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Yves Lavoie lives just a few blocks away and said the noise of the heavy trucks at all hours has been disruptive.

"Late at night when everything quiets down, when everyone goes to bed, I hear the 'bang, bang,'" he said.

Symptoms exacerbated 

Luisa Cameli, the director of the Emotional Health CBT Clinic in Montreal, says prolonged loud noise can lead to depression and anxiety.

"If someone already was mildly depressed or was struggling with anxiety and then they're faced with construction and the emotions that come with the negative interpretation of the construction, then their symptoms are very likely to increase — and we do see that," she said.

Cameli cites a study published in May in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that suggests exposure to traffic noise may increase the risk of depressive symptoms in middle-aged and older adults.

Noise from heavy machinery around the clock is making some St-Henri residents consider moving out of the neighbourhood. (CBC)

It also suggests that people with lower incomes and those with who experience sleep disturbances may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of noise.

She says negative thoughts affect behaviour and can accentuate anger and anxiety.

How can you cope with endless construction? Here are some of Cameli's tips:

  • Take the time to relax: Get out of the area and do something you enjoy like walking, cycling, yoga or meeting with friends.
  • Re-interpret the noise: Try to put a positive spin on the sounds by connecting them with positive things. Think about the completed project and how it will benefit the community.
  • Desensitise yourself to the noise: Record the sounds and listen back to them while you are in a relaxed state.
  • Meditate.
  • Don't stress about changes to your sleep patterns. The more you stress, the harder it will be to get to sleep.
  • Make a list: Write down negative thoughts in one column and positive thoughts next to it.
  • Keep doing the things that make you happy.

Quebec's Transport ministry said the 24-hour-a-day construction is necessary to ensure work gets done as quickly as possible.

Transport Quebec says it is monitoring noise levels of the work at the site. (CBC)

Noise barriers have also been installed and, if necessary, contractors are being asked to take other mitigating measures, like moving equipment away from houses.

Transport Quebec says it is also monitoring noise levels of the work. Residents can also go on the Turcot website and see what the levels are at any hour.

Dominique Anglade, the MNA who represents the area, said she has contacted the transport ministry to make sure surveillance of noise levels at the site is enhanced.