HealthLiving in a city can affect your mental health

Living in a city can affect your mental health

Living in a city has its perks for me as a resident. I thoroughly enjoy the charm of cafes and restaurants engaging in cultural events and meeting people with diverse backgrounds. However there are some downsides to city life that can be quite bothersome.

For instance heavy traffic often gets in the way of spending quality time with friends who reside in the suburbs. Additionally crowded transportation and noise pollution can be quite annoying, on a regular basis. Not to mention movie tickets can set me back $15 each time!

While these inconveniences may appear trivial at glance studies have shown that the fast paced nature of urban living can impact our physical and mental well being. To counter this situation here are some strategies you can employ.

The constant stimulation of city life can take a toll on your mental health

Living in a city may have its advantages but it can significantly impact our mental well being.

Research indicates that city residents are more prone to anxiety disorders by 21% and mood disorders by 39% compared to those who live in areas. Moreover an analysis conducted in 2017 revealed rates of various mental health conditions among urban dwellers;

1. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
2. Difficulties managing anger
3. Generalized anxiety disorder
4. This pattern even extended to severe mental disorders like schizophrenia and paranoia.

So what lies behind this phenomenon? Psychiatrists suggest that the constant challenges of life affect our mechanisms for coping with stress.

Here’s how it works; The continuous stimulation of city living can trigger the bodys fight or flight response leading to heightened vulnerability to health issues such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse. This could partially explain why 19.1% of Americans face anxiety disorders while 6.7% battle with depression.

Furthermore city life may erode ones resilience—particularly for individuals, with a family history of mental illness.
Psychologists believe that the stress caused by our surroundings can potentially increase the chances of developing health conditions like anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.

Despite the challenges that come with city life many young adults feel ashamed or stigmatized. Find it difficult to talk about their struggles. This might be why they often feel more lonely compared to generations as per a study conducted by Cigna.

Furthermore young adults, millennials frequently experience burnout – a state of mental and physical exhaustion that drains all the joy from life.

Although older generations may see millennials as individuals who avoid taking on responsibilities as highlighted by Anne Helen Peterson, in Buzzfeeds article millennials actually struggle with “errand paralysis” and constantly feel obligated to work.

For adults residing in bustling cities that never sleep these perceptions can be magnified and intensify the psychological challenges of urban living.

Your sleep quality and cardiovascular health may also be affected by living in a city

Living in a city doesn’t just impact our well being but it can also have a significant effect on our physical health. A study conducted in 2017 suggests that being exposed to air pollution and urban noise could potentially harm cardiovascular health.

It seems that the noise from traffic has the ability to disrupt sleep quality and increase levels of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. When cortisol remains elevated for periods it may raise the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Furthermore it appears that city dwellers might be more prone to experiencing insomnia and sleep disturbances. In a survey conducted by Stanford University involving over 15,000 individuals researchers discovered that the bright lights of cities can interfere with a persons ability to have a nights sleep.

According to their findings 6 percent of people residing in brightly lit urban areas reported sleeping less than six hours per night. Additionally the survey revealed that 29 percent of these urban residents were dissatisfied, with the quality of their nighttime rest.

Living in crowded cities can make us more prone, to infections particularly during the colder months when colds and flu are more common. Studies have also indicated that city residents often consume amounts of processed and fast foods, which can put them at a higher risk of weight gain, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Here are some ways you can keep city life from taking a toll on your mental and physical well-being

Finding strategies to cope with the challenges that come with living in a city can greatly enhance your overall physical and emotional health. The following tips can assist in avoiding burnout easing feelings of isolation and safeguarding, against depression so that you can fully enjoy life.

Spend time outside

Spending much time surrounded by urban concrete can sometimes lead to a condition called the city blues. However finding solace in parks or taking walks in nature can be a way to remedy this. Studies have shown that connecting with nature can greatly improve our well being and even help prevent depression.

For those of us who live lives in the city concerns about limited time may make it difficult to spend a lot of time outdoors. Fortunately enjoying the benefits of nature doesn’t always require a weekend. You could try incorporating outdoor breaks during your lunch hour by visiting a nearby park or arranging a weekly walk and chat with a close friend.

Researchers, at Stanford University have discovered that walking in nature has the ability to restore balance in our brains. This effect helps us better handle emotions and ultimately strengthens our ability to cope with stress effectively.

How to create a community

Creating a sense of community and belonging is essential for fostering an welcoming environment. In todays age however we may find ourselves less inclined to reach out to our neighbors for small favors.

Nonetheless these personal interactions play a role in nurturing social connections and building closer relationships. They can even have effects on our overall well being.

That’s why it’s worth considering adopting the mindset of Mr. Rogers and taking the time to connect with your neighbors. Invite them over for dinner. Strike up a friendly conversation with the barista, at your favorite local coffee shop. Engaging with others even those we may not know well has been proven to counteract feelings of isolation. Having conversations is a great way to form new connections.


It’s no surprise that exercising’s good for both our bodies and minds. Studies have shown that exercise can enhance our mood strengthen our system and reduce the risk of heart disease.

However the expenses and urban lifestyle constraints may hinder us from engaging in physical activity. If joining a gym or going for a bike ride isn’t financially viable you could consider participating in community fitness programs. Many urban areas, like Los Angeles, San Francisco and London offer outdoor group workout sessions in nearby neighborhoods.

Talking about the ups and downs

Talking about the upsides and downsides of city life can be a way to deal with stress. It’s comforting to find people who can relate to your experiences and assure you that you’re not alone. If you’re facing health issues like depression or anxiety therapy can be really beneficial even though it may come at a high cost depending on your insurance coverage.

Don’t let that discourage you from seeking help. Many major cities in the United States have mental health clinics and support groups available. It’s important to explore these low cost options so that you can find the kind of assistance.

If the whole process seems overwhelming remember that therapy doesn’t have to be. However consulting with a specialist can help prevent stress from escalating into something severe and long lasting such, as burnout, generalized anxiety disorder or major depression.

The most important thing in the end

Living in a city can provide a mix of excitement and stress. Understanding how to safeguard your mental health from the impact of urban life can truly make a difference.

It’s no secret that engaging in exercise having conversations with loved ones and connecting with your community can enhance your emotional well being. While these activities are beneficial, for everyone they hold significance for those living in urban areas as they navigate their daily lives.


  1. Agid O, et al. (2000). “Environmental stress and psychiatric illness.” DOI: Link
  2. American Academy of Neurology. (2016). “Can’t sleep? Street lights may be keeping you awake” [Press release]. Link
  3. Any anxiety disorder. (2017). Link
  4. Cai Y, et al. (2017). “Long-term exposure to road traffic noise, ambient air pollution, and cardiovascular risk factors in the HUNT and lifelines cohorts.” DOI: Link
  5. Choi KW, et al. (2019). “Assessment of bidirectional relationships between physical activity and depression among adults: A 2-sample mendelian randomization study.” DOI: Link
  6. Cigna. (2018). “New Cigna study reveals loneliness at epidemic levels in America” [Press release]. Link

Mark Willson, holding a Ph.D., functions as a psychotherapist in Washington, D.C. His specialized fields encompass addiction, anxiety, depression, as well as sexuality and interpersonal connections. Dr. Willson holds the distinction of being a diplomat for the American Board of Addiction and Anxiety, further serving as a certified counselor and addiction specialist.

Aside from his personal professional endeavors, Dr. Wilson has engaged in roles as an author, journalist, and creator within substantial medical documentary projects.

Isabella Clark, Ph.D., held the position of a professor within Emory University’s School of Medicine, working in the Department of Mental Health and Nutrition Science. Alongside this role, she served as a research associate affiliated with the National Research Center. Dr. Clark’s primary area of research centers on comprehending the mechanisms through which adverse social encounters, encompassing prolonged stress and traumatic exposure, contribute to a spectrum of detrimental mental health consequences and coexisting physical ailments like obesity. Her specific focus lies in unraveling the reasons behind the varying elevated susceptibility to stress-linked disorders between different genders.


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