Yes, Living in a City Is Messing With Your Mental Health

Updated 05/31/17
City Living — Mental Health

If you've ever felt like city living is making you feel a little crazy, it turns out you might not be totally off base. After all, we humans were not wired for crowded commutes, stinking piles of garbage, constant construction noise, and filthy streets. Case in point: New Yorkers—who live in the most densely populated city in North America—don't exactly have the reputation of being supremely agreeable or laid-back beings. But could there be scientific backing to support that city living is actually wreaking havoc on your mental health?

Scientists say yes. A study recently published in the Oxford Academic Schizophrenia Bulletin claims that living in densely populated areas could increase chances of psychosis. The study, in which researchers interviewed 2063 British twins at age 18 about psychotic experiences—such as feeling paranoid, hearing voices, or having frightening thoughts—revealed that "18-year-olds raised in big cities were 67 percent more likely to have had psychotic experiences." 

But before you throw in the metropolitan towel in favor of a quaint farmhouse in the country, consider this: After accounting for various socioeconomic statuses, family psychiatric history, social isolation, vandalism, street crime, and others, the number had dropped to 35%—a number considered statistically insignificant in scientific parlance. In other words, the daily stresses of urban living may not be akin to spending a day at the spa, but there is no significant backing that it will wreak havoc on your mental health, either.

So what's the verdict? While it seems that certain aspects of city living might negatively influence the mental health of more vulnerable people, it doesn't actually make you crazy. Our suggestion: If you're having a particularly rough and gloomy day in the city, hit the reset button with some relaxing at-home essentials.

What's your favorite way to relax amid daily chaos? Let us know in the comments below. 

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