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City Life Affects Schizophrenia Prevalence And Anxiety

Researchers have discovered that two areas of the brain are directly affected by city living– and lead to a greater risk of anxiety and mood disorders. It was found that the risk for anxiety disorders is 21% greater for those who live in the city.

The same group of city folk also saw a 39% increase in mood disorders. Individuals who are born and raised in the city are also twice as likely to get Schizophrenia at some point in their lives.

So what causes the neurological differences in city and non-city people? Well, the city, in general produces stress. Honking cars, increased car accidents, cyclists, people walking their dogs, are just a few variables that have an impact on mental health, in particular- on the stress responses in the amygdala (the part of your brain that causes fear).

The research also suggests that humans have specific time frames in their lives that make them more sensitive to stressors found within the city. The research points to population density as being the number one cause for stress. This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view because increased population density triggered competition from our ancestors. In general, more people = less food and resources for shelter and survival tools.

It would only make sense that we would feel anxious when there are too many people, and some of our ancestral fears do relate to modern times. When there are too many people, there may be less jobs, and more competition of finding a mate. An excellent text on Evolutionary Psychology is written by David Buss, if you’re interested.

Photo Courtesy of barabeke
Photo Courtesy of digitaltrails