Do Cities Make Us Crazy?

According to a recent study, they do. Well, if not crazy, at least a lot more anxious.

Researchers have discovered that two areas of the brain are directly affected by city living, leading to a greater risk of anxiety and mood disorders.

It was already known that city living is associated with poorer mental health – but not how or why. The new study provides some clues.

“The risk for anxiety disorders is 21 percent higher for people from the city, who also have a 39 percent increase for mood disorders,” says co-author Jens Pruessner, a researcher at McGill’s Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal.

I only ever lived in a city once, when we lived in Toronto. It’s a fantastic place – really beautiful and clean and safe as cities go – and yet that’s the only time in my life I’ve suffered from panic attacks. I don’t just mean waking up in the night and worrying – I mean full blown ‘fight or flight’ hyperventilating, numb body parts, can’t breathe, pounding heart, sheer terror panic attacks.

I used to think the attacks were a result of having moved from England and started a whole new life, but who knows … maybe it was just living in a city that messed with my head.

Phil and I have been doing a lot of thinking about what we need in our next home. We’ve both been really happy in this little town, and we’d like to replicate that in England. I think I’d prefer a village. I like the sense of community that comes from living in a small place and actually where we are now isn’t much bigger than an English village. But Phil leans more towards town living – he likes the idea of having everything you need within an easy walk. A town like Kendal is ideal for him but luckily for me he doesn’t have any desire to live in a major city.

Let’s face it, at our age we’re losing enough brain cells as it is (where did I put my keys again?). I don’t think we can afford any more.

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One thought on “Do Cities Make Us Crazy?

  1. I’m terrible at City’s. Even here, I live outside of town. Certainly cities tend toward making me lonely and crazy. Will have to have a look at the paper.

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