On Urban Anxiety
What is urban anxiety? Well, it is the anxiety people living in big cities feel. Living in the urban area may pose greater risk of developing depression, anxiety and other moods disorders.
Although many studies have shown that living in the big city may cause a lot of problems, there was no study made on how city life really affects the emotion and the stress centers in the brain. According to the researchers involved in the study, these new findings may help improve the quality life of people living in the urban areas of the world. “Previous findings have shown that the risk for anxiety disorders is 21 percent higher for people from the city, who also have a 39 percent increase for mood disorders,” said co-author Jens Pruessner, Ph.D. Furthermore, according to Pruessner, the incidence of schizophrenia among people who are living in an urban area has also doubled and it seems that these values are the main cause of concern.
What Pruessner and colleagues did was to look at the brain activity of healthy people coming from both urban and rural area. In a series of functional magnetic resonance experiments, the researchers observed that the amygdala of people living in the urban area showed greater response to stress. The amygdala is that area in the brain which is involved with emotional regulation and moods. In contrast, urban upbringing showed signs of activity in the cingulated cortex, the area in the brain which is greatly involved in regulating the negative affect and stress. According to the researchers, these findings show that different areas of the brain are in charge with different types of responses to the stress imposed by the urban life. “Future studies need to clarify the link between psychopathology and these affects in individuals with mental disorders,” Pruessner said. He went on saying that the findings contribute to helping people understand better what the urban environment is all about when it comes to mental disorders and health in general, for that matter.11