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I am considering relocating to the western US from the East Coast (depending on the outcome of my grad school applications), and in my research I came across the idea of high altitude predisposing people to, or exacerbating mental illness. I was not familiar with the idea of the "suicide belt" (a region of western states with the highest suicide rates in the US), and then I found out this has actually been studied and pertains to depression/mood disorders in general, as well as anxiety. This surprised me, because a big part of my reason for wanting to relocate was always largely for psychological reasons. Anyway, the idea is that less oxygen in the air decreases serotonin levels and increases dopamine:

I lived in this region for awhile for school, and have suffered with panic attacks since my teens (in fact, it was during my time there that I took a psychology course which made me realize that I probably had panic disorder since my early teens). Also during a good amount of my time there, I was on antidepressants, but felt like they were blunting my emotions and started to skip doses, which was an absolute nightmare... but so was being tired all day and feeling dead inside..So I think that all makes it hard to really know if the altitude was a factor. But I do remember that at the same time, I was somehow happier, in between the crippling rebound anxiety episodes... in fact about a year after I returned to the east coast, and saw a therapist I had been seeing in high school, she asked me if I'll ever go back because I seemed so much happier there (I saw her a few times during the school year) .

I definitely think there was an overall alteration in my brain chemistry, aside from just med withdrawal (just going by some times I visited prior to messing around trying to go off meds). It wasn't depression, it was more like the opposite: my capacity to feel, and to just feel alive was expanded. All my emotions seemed amplified. Sometimes it felt surreal and dream-like. Hard to describe. Returning east was like its own drug withdrawal.

I was never bothered physiologically (like altitude sickness, dehydration, getting easily drunk and such--though I'm pretty sure that last one's a myth that's been debunked), but I don't want to end up going to school somewhere only to not be able to do so because of relapsing into debilitating panic disorder.

Maybe it's different if you're suicidal/depressed vs just anxiety? Anyone live at different altitudes and notice psychological changes? (if you can, excluding personal fit w/ surrounding culture: they say in the link I posted that they've all but ruled out cultural/social factors as a possibility, since Utah and Vegas don't exactly share similar cultural values).
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