City life is stressing you out (and rewiring your brain)

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

City life is stressing you out (and rewiring your brain)

Here’s something to stress about: a new study has found that if you live in a city, you’re an awful lot more likely to suffer from stress, anxiety and mental illness than your rural friends. What’s more, your urban-dwelling habits are physically rewiring your brain to help you handle the rigors of city life.

Dr. Jens Pruessner, of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute at McGill University, led a team that found major differences in the brain scans of rural-dwellers and urbanites. While doing math problems in an fMRI machine, city folk consistently showed more activity in their amygdalas (the part of the brain that deals with danger), a bit like being in a constant state of high alert.

Pruessner told Scientific American that high amygdala activity “has been strongly implicated in anxiety disorders, depression and other behaviors that are increased in cities, such as violence.” What’s more, other research has found that urbanites are 21% more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders, 39% more likely to have mood disorders, and nearly 100% more likely to be schizophrenic.

For more info, read the press release or check out some of our press coverage:

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