Stress and the city: Scientists testing out if urban life is factors in psychoses.

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entremet

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Article link: http://www.nature.com/news/stress-and-the-city-urban-decay-1.11556

Excerpt:

In 1965, health authorities in Camberwell, a bustling quarter of London's southward sprawl, began an unusual tally. They started to keep case records for every person in the area who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder or any other psychiatric condition. Decades later, when psychiatrists looked back across the data, they saw a surprising trend: the incidence of schizophrenia had more or less doubled, from around 11 per 100,000 inhabitants per year in 1965 to 23 per 100,000 in 1997 — a period when there was no such rise in the general population (J. Boydell et al. Br. J. Psychiatry 182, 45–49; 2003). The result raised a question in many researchers' minds: could the stress of city life be increasing the risk of schizophrenia and other mental-health disorders?

The question is an urgent one. Back in 1950, less than one-third of the world's population lived in cities. Now, lured by the prospect of work and opportunity, more than half do. Mental illnesses already comprise the world's biggest disease burden after infectious diseases and, although global statistics do not yet show any major increase in incidence, the cost is rising. In Germany, the number of sick days taken for psychiatric ailments doubled between 2000 and 2010; in North America, up to 40% of disability claims for work absence are related to depression, according to some estimates. “It seems that cities may be making us sick,” says Jane Boydell at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, who led the Camberwell study.

Anecdotally, the link between cities, stress and mental health makes sense. Psychiatrists know that stress can trigger mental disorders — and modern city life is widely perceived as stressful. City dwellers typically face more noise, more crime, more slums and more people jostling on the streets than do those outside urban areas. Those who have jobs complain of growing demands on them in the workplace, where they are expected to do much more in less time

Considered from an evolutionary standpoint, the physiological stress response is definitely a good thing: it helps mammals to survive. Any threat, whether from a predator, dwindling food supplies or an aggressive enemy, triggers release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones raise levels of sugar in the blood and redistribute blood flow to muscles and lungs, so that animals can respond to the threat by running, hunting or fighting.

Problems arise when the stress response doesn't switch off. Stress-hormone levels that stay too high for too long cause high blood pressure and suppress the immune system. And, although the mechanisms are unknown, scientists agree that severe or prolonged stress also raise the risk of psychiatric disease — most brutally in those who have a genetic predisposition, and when the stress occurs while the brain is still developing
. In theory, then, the ceaseless challenges of the city could produce this kind of damaging stress. Some fear that they could end up driving an increase in mental illness around the world.


Study link below:

http://www.nature.com/news/stress-and-the-city-urban-decay-1.11556

Makes sense if you look at it from an evolutionary mindset. We didn't evolve within these huge and dense population centers in the forefront, but small tribal groups.

It seems are DNA is moving slower than the technology we've adopted. Additionally, as anyone who has moved to big city would know, its very easy for loneliness, a precursor for depression, to happen as you get lost in the shuffle.

I grew up in both suburbs and cities and each have their advantages. City life can definitely be stressful. However, a relatively young and single guy, suburban life doesn't offer much in terms of meeting women and nightlife. It's just too slow for my tastes--maybe if I ever have kids and get married.
 

Kozak

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I'm sure I won't be the first one to say that I kind of like that lifestyle..

The stress kind of gives you a craziness that helps you keep going. Like you're on meth without the loop.
 

entremet

Member
I'm sure I won't be the first one to say that I kind of like that lifestyle..

The stress kind of gives you a craziness that helps you keep going. Like you're on meth without the loop.

The problem is that more and more of the world's population is moving to cities. We're becoming more urban not less.

I think this study is important because it help determine policy to help ameliorate city stress.
 
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