Without doubt, cities are stimulating and vibrant places; however, their residents have mental diseases at higher rates than the gen population. For a long period of time, it has been known that the areas where we live and work influence our physical health and that we can be impacted negatively by the exposure to lead or polluted air.
But, according to newest findings, our mental health may also be affected. Why do city dwellers’ mental health suffers more than let’s say, of those people living in less urban areas?
Why Does Living in a City Burden Our Mental Health?
The physical nature of cities puts a lot of pressure on people’s emotional health because it involves more stressors like poor air quality, noise pollution, traffic problems, neighbors, and construction.
According to research partners Andreas M. Lindenberg, director of the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany and Matilda van den Bosch, an environmental health researcher from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, a lot of these factors were present in urban areas, but not restricted to them.
For example, air pollution isn’t just a problem for cities and pesticides too.
However, they believe that if we want to better our collective mental health, we need to improve the livability in our cities. You can find their research in the Annual Review of Public Health journal.
City Population Is Rapidly Increasing
Did you know that more than 50 percent of the world population is already living in cities? What’s more, this percentage is expected to rise to almost 70 percent by the year of 2050.
According to Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, on a global level, we’re becoming more and more urban and thus, neighborhoods are changing.
She adds that we need to consciously try and do it in a way that will be good for our mental health.
City Living & Depression
While researching, Meyer-Lindenberg and van den Bosch discovered that several studies suggested that heavy metals and noise pollution may lead to depression; however, more research is necessary to confirm this link.
Poor air quality has also been linked with anxiety, depression, and psychotic experiences. According to Kioumourtzoglou, women who live in highly polluted areas have a greater likelihood of anxiety symptoms and taking antidepressants.
Urban areas are dangerous because of the low greenery and the abundance of toxins in the air; even though cities are better for a lot of aspects of our lives, including access to education and better healthcare.
Is Living in a City Mean You’ll Develop Depression?
Without doubt, living next to a highway or in the center of the busiest city in the world doesn’t doom you to anxiety or depression. And, the truth is, a lot of people succeed in the cities. Plus, mental diseases are a complex consequence of genetics and life situations and it’s really difficult to name one culprit.
Air pollution and lack of greenery can elevate one’s risk, particularly if they’re already vulnerable because of other reasons. It remains to be discovered by scientists how strong is our environment affecting us.