City living increases the risk of mental health problems.
Pollution. Traffic. Noise. Stress. Those are some of the words that can be heard whenever a group of friends or colleagues living in a big city get together.
For years we’ve known that living in an urban area can be stressful, and decades ago epidemiologists demonstrated that people that grow up in a city are prone to mental disorders. “Previous findings have shown that the risk for anxiety disorders is 21 percent higher for people from the city, who also have a 39 per cent increase for mood disorders… In addition, the incidence for schizophrenia is almost doubled for individuals who are born and brought up in cities. These values are a cause for concern and determining the biology behind this is the first step to remedy the trend,” said co-author Jens Pruessner, a Douglas Mental Health University Institute researcher.
A new international study conducted at the Central Institute of Mental Health at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, showed that there is a clear association between mental disorders and living in urban areas. After scanning the brain of 32 healthy volunteers who underwent “social stress,” Professor Andreas Meyer-Linderberg and his research group discovered that the amygdala, a set of neurones that processes threats and regulates emotional reactions, showed increased activity in city dwellers. During the stressful task (answering a math test), the researchers also noticed that the cingulate cortex, which is involved in assessing emotions and motivational information, increased its activity on those who lived or had been raised in an urban area.