The people, the traffic, the crime - these are just some reasons why you might feel stressed out while living in a city. And now research backs up that the brain of a city-dweller may respond more strongly to stress than a country-dweller.
The study in the journal Nature also suggests that two brain regions involved with emotion and stress regulation could potentially be harmed by living in a city.
The new research delves into possible biological explanations for why other studies have found a 21% higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 39% increased risk for mood disorders among people who come from cities.
In the first stage of the study, 32 healthy participants did arithmetic tasks under time pressure while researchers examined their brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They found that people who live in cities had increased activity in the amygdala, an almond-shaped region of the brain involved in stress response, compared with those who lived in towns and rural areas.
In a follow-up, 23 participants engaged in slightly different mental tasks and got negative feedback from the experimenters in videos. Here, the study authors found the same pattern in amygdala activity among people who lived in cities. At the same time, people who had grown up in cities often showed activity in the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex - a major player in stress regulation. Study authors then looked at 24 people who mostly resided in towns and rural areas, who did not show these stress responses. (This sample size is considered respectable in the brain imaging world).
The brain regions identified here have long been known to activate under stressful conditions, but this is the first evidence that city living can make you respond to stress more, said David Knight, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who was not involved in the study.
More research needs to be done to determine whether these brain responses among people who live in cities, or grew up in them, are actually good or bad for you, Knight said.
This study did not directly address how long you have to live in a city to have these effects, or how much vacation time the test subjects take away from busier environments.
There's good evidence that too much stress can harm the brain, Knight said. On the other hand, if you're in a place where you need to react more quickly and vigorously to potential threats, the stress response could be beneficial.
"Maybe just being in a busier environment, things that are stressful are the ones that need to be prioritized. So your brain responds more to stressful events so that you prioritize them more," he said.
It makes sense. It certainly fits my own experiences. I grew up in a city of 5 million people. My wife grew up in a small town of a few thousand people. When we found ourselves in the path of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 with no car, I calmly but quickly arranged for a rental and got us out of there, and she was paralyzed with fear and doubt. A more highly developed stress centre in your brain can be a useful thing.
I live in a small town in the path of tornadoes and floods. Neither I nor my small-town husband have ever been paralyzed with "fear and doubt" while dealing with an emergency. I think such a study is too overreaching. Too much variation exists in humanity to make such generalized statements. Not to mention that our current understanding of the brain is too limited for us to really know what is going on in what part of the brain.
The "dumb hick" stereotype mentioned below is insulting and inaccurate. It is on the same level as the "city sleeze" stereotype. I have lived in small towns all my life and still graduated from a public-ivy university with high honors and a Master's degree. There are stupid people in both cities and the country.
Michael, this is the exact opposite of what the study said. It said that people in cities are more likely to have stress disorders.
Um, this is because she's a woman. All women freak out in situations like that. Hope that helps.
Indeed Michael, you got the article exactly wrong. Gotta be the result of the stressful city living.
Actually, if you READ the article, it says that city-dwellers have more "anxiety disorders" but that the parts of your brain which deal with stress are more highly developed in city-dwellers.
Certainly, since rural people are far more likely to be terrified of ridiculous bogeymen like "gay marriage will bring about the downfall of society" or "Muslims will invade and destroy our freedoms" and vote accordingly (thus creating a fairly reliable and large-scale statistical data set), any claims about the superior calmness of rural people seem to be on rather thin ice.
In fact, all of you are wrong. If you read the entire article, you'd note that "More research needs to be done to determine whether these brain responses among people who live in cities, or grew up in them, are actually good or bad for you." They don't conclude that city life either improves responsiveness to stressful situations or aggravates it. Other tests, as mentioned, have found increased levels of anxiety or behavioral disorders in city dwellers, but don't touch on stress response or show that one develops in an inferior fashion in one locale or another.
The amygdala deals with more than JUST stress response, so really this study found no conclusive evidence one way or the other. Essentially, it serves as a great gateway for continued research.
But please, feel free to jump to your own conclusions to satisfy your own lifestyle or argumentative preferences. Everyone else does.
Michael didn't get the article wrong. The researchers even said they don't know whether this increased awareness derived from city life is good or bad.
There's a way to bring a little of the country to the city. There's a site called TranscendentalTones that offers long-duration sounds of nature like ocean waves or the sounds of a tropical forest. If you play these tracks in your living room every night you can sit back and relax even if you live in a stressful city.
Hey Michael... STFU.
Had nothing to do with wife's small town. Had all to do with wife trusting you. Good Job!
I think you got to observe a "woman thing".
I hate NYC with a passion. If I could find a decent paying job elsewhere I'd be out of here in an instant. Most of what I make gets taxed or wasted on the higher cost of everything anyway, but with these retarded student loans I'm kind of stuck. Big city folk have the peculiar ability of simultaneously whining about lots of things but then turning around and claiming they are happy and are somehow better than other people. It's some weird sort of retard defense mechanism for angry, bitter people that are too stupid and too scared to change anything in their lives.
Unless you are born rich and don't have to interact with the commoners, nobody actually, really likes NYC. Any rational person can tell you that being packed in like sardines underground with smelly people and rats is inferior to fresh country air and driving without traffic.
I hope you find your escape. i have heard from others in your situation and have myself felt the pain, perhaps re-evaluating what the money is needed for can help you break free. Best wishes to you.
We're not fond of you either so go ahead and leave. You will not be missed. As for not making enough money, I am not surprised; your whining like a little girl won’t get you very high up the ladder. New York is for tough people so grow a pair or hide in a mountain.
So it's not just me? I visited NYC once and i thought to myself "why the hell do people claim to be so happy here? This place is MISERABLE!". A bunch of angry stressed-out people running around on overly crowded streets and subways, trying to survive and make ends meet. But at the same time they swear up and down, through their worry lines and the bags under their eyes, that they are happy, that life is great in NYC, and I'M the one who is missing out. To which i say: you can have it. :)
Damn, I thought I was the only one who felt like this! I just got off the #4 train at Yankee Stadium, then onto a bus packed with people who refuse to courteously move to the rear. I have a stress headache that I feel from my sinuses to the back of my neck. Other than that, NYC living is wonderful! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
Seriously, the only people who enjoy NYC are people from boring-@ss places like Kanses, Wisconsin and Ohio. And tourists. And people who are just too stupid to realize that human beings weren't meant to be packed on top of one another.
Never been to NYC but live in Seattle (country born and raised). The worst part is going days on end without ever seeing a smile. Riding transit three hours a day, I see how unhappy people are, but many of them say they love Seattle. I think the mouthing of "love it here" is on the line of "fake it til you make it." I make a lot more money here, but don't see an improved standard of liiving. Moving home to the coast. Watching the lemmings run to the city looking for money... I'm running the other way.
You sound like someone whom is whining. You remind me of all those NYU kids whom hang out in Union Square asking people for money because they're 'homeless.'
The truth is that plenty of people live/work/play in NYC and love it. We have some of the best museums/theaters/parks/events than anywhere else. We get movies first. There's TONS of free things to go and do. Flea Markets in the summer are awesome. There's a lot of nice people, but they're nice to New Yorkers. You sir live here, but you're no New Yorker. You can spend your whole life exploring the city and still find something new each day. Anything is possible here, but it's up to you to make it happen. The pure meaning of what America is Opportunity.
I did undergrad in NYC and spent 13 years there. I finally got out and my happiness increased dramatically. Your assessment is quite erudite.
And to the guy saying "we don't like you either, " well, you just proved his point...
is Seattle a city? You could have fooled me.
Not everyone likes living like a sardine in a can. There are wonderful places to eat, great theaters, lovely parks, but all of that is counterbalanced by the manic pace, general filth, miserable people and never-ending sense of being on a financial treadmill. Not to mention the extreme population density. Because the high-paying jobs are in NYC, people choose to grit it out, but honestly, anyone who is happy living a frenzied lifestyle needs their head examined. Seriously!
I'll never understand why people insist that if a big city makes them unhappy, then everyone living in a big city must be unhappy as well. I live in NYC, and there are things I dislike, but overall I'm happy here and have been for almost a decade. I'm from the midwest, and there are things I dislike about a slower, less populated way of life as well–but I could be happy there too.
First of all, Derp, be glad you even have a job in the first case, you ingrate. I am originally from NYC and have traveled quite a bit and NYC is a WORLD CLASS CITY. The energy, culture and diversity are unbelievable. The city never sleeps and you can find anything you are looking for there. So many free and low cost activities, especially in the summer. Also amazing pizza and bagels!!! One thing I will admit, though, it is not that easy to do some of the day-to-day stuff in Manhattan, such as grocery shopping. I live in SF now and it is maybe one-tenth the city NYC is, if that.
It may stress your brain, but it also constantly works it in a myriad of ways, something people in rural areas don't get. The 'dumb hick' stereotype exists for a good reason.
That "good reason" being...?
I can't think of anything more stressful than living in a BORING suburb and having to COMMUTE an hour every day to my job. I also don't miss having to mow a lawn, shovel the snow off my driveway, CLEAN MY GUTTERS, lay down MULCH or any of the other PIA things that suburbanites have to do on a regular basis.
Just call me a cab, or, even better, I'll WALK to my favorite restaurant, go to the theater and take a cab or leisurely stroll home to my city pad. Yeah, REAL stressful!. HEE! HEE!
Sounds great except...
-The cabs are all taken. You'll waste a half hour trying to find one.
-The restaurant is full. The line is 45 minutes long.
-The theater is packed. You're stuck next to some awful inconsiderate jerk who is texting while the movie is playing.
-Finally, you push through a bunch of people to get out of the theater and get home, where you can have some peace and quiet. You can't stay up long though, You have to get up super early to work extra hard for that job. Groceries are expensive, so is housing and everything else. Can't cut back your hours. You have to maintain this lifestyle.
Not everyone lives in the best areas of the city. When people say they love NYC, they're talking about Manhattan, not Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx or Staten Island. Convenience is cool, but so is living someplace where people are not packed on top of you. And if you can get a cab in Manhattan, you're damned good!!!
Did I miss where this poster mentioned NYC? You all seem to believe it's the only city we have. Try Chicago, DC, Seattle, Boston, or San Francisco for some quality city living.
Fool, who told you that the suburbs are the out in the country? The suburbs are superglued to the city.
@telemander-I grew up in NYC, and live in SF. SF seems like a very small city. No comparison to Manhattan, or especially not to the whole of NYC. Only very small parts of SF have a city feel at all, such as the downtown area.
This isn't the first study that found that the amygdala of people who have more social contacts (city dwellers) is larger and more active then in people with less social contacts (rural dwellers). However, there is a fix: If people practice mindfulness techniques (meditation) then the amygdala has been shown to become less active and the stress hormones are decreased making them less reactive and calmer at the same time it helps the grey matter in the brain grow. This takes about 3 to 6 months of practice.
I love New York City & Montreal !
The city is very stressful. However when you live in a big city you become fearful to leave. Why?
Because you see outsiders as dumb. You think: "I'm stressed out, but if I leave i'll become an idiot". So you leave, and you become a happy, tress-less.... idiot. Your move.
Bein out of dem city I learnt how to cook possum and blow my nose in de beer can. You city folk aint so smart after all.
I think it has some relevance.
I recently moved from a very small town (without any street lights) to a large city, where I take public transportation and deal with "city" people everyday. The fact that after a long day of work, which usually results in you not wanting to put up with rude people, or wait for a bus to just go home. Yes, resources are close and we don't have to do things like yard work..we do have MURDERS and ROBBERIES (very stressful to a young woman living in a city, or any person for that matter), as well as higher prices for everything. Overall, I do believe this study is as it shows, just because of the stressful environment a city entails. Before, living in a small town...my mind was much clearer than it is now.
Just like anywhere, you need to want to live where you are living. Many people would put a bullet through their head living in a town without a stoplight and derive a great energy from being in the bustle of a city. To each their own, but clearly you weren't ready to make the transition. Perhaps later in life?
If people didn't try to snake my cab...I would be less stressed!!!
Thats why im so glad to be out of & AWAY from a crouded city that had no zoning controll or restrictions. It was constant BUILD, BUILD ,BUILD! I got so tired of seeing quiet woond one week, and then a busy shopping center the next. And the traffic, nothing was done, just got worse and worse. Walmart would build their small store, then rip our 1000s of trees to build, BUILD, BUILD their Supercenter! While their old store lays empty, nothing in it. Who has seen The Lorax? Houston is a great example. Born and raised in that mad house. The natives were ran off by the northerners & immigrants. Im so glad after 35 years being OUT and AWAY from there. God I still have nightmares that it will catch up and swallow this lil country up 350 miles away! Cities & rapid growth SUCKS!
If i wasn't gay, i would definitely live in a small town! City living absolutely sucks! The quality of life in a smaller community is so much better. But the tradeoff for someone like me is i'd be single and lonely for the rest of my life. :( So I decided to live in big noisy Los Angeles. And i'm still single and lonely but that's another story. :)
Joe, what makes you think there are no gays in the country? There certainly are. As to anyone messing with them, I've never seen that since high school anyway... and who escapes from high school without wounding and scars? People watch too many movies. And moviie makers have never been to the country.
You should be looking online. Maybe you will find someone else from a small town there. I have lived in the LA area too, and it is difficult to navigate. More of a sprawling metropolis than a conventional city.
New York is not for wimps if you are tough enough then go live in Disneyland.
Try Living in L.A. with all the Gangs, Rapists and Idiot politicians.
LA is really a handful eh? LOL . But I sort of miss it. Just the freakiness, and the trips into the desert.
Heck, livin has it's ups and downs no matter.
It's funny that people from NYC think they are somehow more intellegent than the rest of us. I'm pretty sure intellegence is not at work when someone chooses to live in a crowded, dirty, expensive and crime-ridden place. Not to mention devoid of nature. I would rather die than live there.
I worked with a guy from China who thought part of the reason I was so intelligent was that I grew up in NYC. There is a lot of stimulation there for sure.
They should differentiate between "city" and "suburb". I find all the traffic and chaos of life spent in a landscape not built for humans to be far more stressful than the pleasantness of an urban landscape where I can walk to the farmer's market, bike to work, and generally function closer to the pace a human was meant to function at. Suburbia was a horrific stress on my life. Never again.
Agreed. Big city= more stress. Personal space is one big issue. As my state grows, you can't find a space of time
where you can walk around in nature, or even a previously deserted park (like the old days), without obnoxious,
noisy people. Oddly, there are still some times, I enjoy a crowd of everyday folks -in moderation.
The only actual, real, inbreeding I have ever seen in all my travels was in Mexico! No kidding. Uncle and niece... two times! I'm not saying it never happens elsewhere, but never have seen it before. Both were city alliances.
I've lived in 2 major cities, many suburbs and in BFE up in the mountains. I've covered the gamut and have settled in San Francisco is the biggest little town you'll find. It's pretty stress free and only 7 miles across—and it has EVERYTHING. Plus I can be out of here in 10 minutes.
I have lived in SF for the last 16 years. It does not have EVERYTHING the way NYC has everything. It just doesn't.
City vs. rural is subjective. I can tolorate about one week in a city before I want to blow my brains out. However, I fully understand many people would feel the same way about living in my small village. (Yes, villages do still exist in the U.S.) I honestly do not care where other people choose to live and I do not think locale makes one set of people better or worse than another. I only wish that all people would stop making broad generalizations about other sets of people. I live in a small village, I am happy, well-educated, and do not eat possum, live in terror of the wider world, or think that gays and Muslims are out to get me.
Living & working in Houston my average BP is 145/95, and frequently 150+/105+ resting. When I go to Belize and work down there it drops to 95/60, the lowest measured at 85/45. BP is the primary indicator of morbidity. Besides work, people move to big cities to be stimulated by its amenities; and we are, non-stop.
Grew up in a town in Missouri of 250 people. Went home from an area in California surrounded by 400,000 people. Took mom to county health clinic to have her BP read. Had my BP read there too, about 30 points lower in Missouri than California. I see Forbes magazines which rates one of the close cities here in California the worst city, while the town in Missouri where my BP was read was rated one of the 5 prettiest towns in America. One of the comments above said small towns = dumb hicks. Not the case. Of the 4 people who signed my High School Chemistry (Not advanced – didn't have that) as the owners, we have 2 M.D.s, a Nuclear Engineer and an Engineering Manager. One of my Missouri college classmates is in charge of Advanced Aircraft Carrier Design for the Navy. One of the graduates of the same school (UMR) was in charge of Advanced Aircraft Design at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, where the Roswell UFO may or may not have been taken to.
I rest my case LOL
You were doing so well until the end.
Sounds like you were living in a wealthy community.
I grew up in a small coastal town. I know live in the DC suburbs and work in DC. I have to say, after living in the area for 7 years, I still can't get over the fact that it can take you 20 mins to travel 2 blocks in DC when the traffic is bad. Once we had a tragic accident on the interstate and it took my 3 hours to make what's usually a 45 minute commute. In 3 hours I could have driven to Philadelphia! Another thing I despise about DC are the discourteous folk and the tourists. I have to take an escalator from the parking area to DC's Union Station before going into work. The swarm of stupid small towners all blocked the escalator but they were all too scared to step on. I know I used to be one of those tourists who got all googly eyed in the nation's capitol back in junior high, but sometimes I feel like quoting Ludacris, "Move B#2ch. Get out the way!"
LIfe is 100% better in DC if you don't have to drive every day. I got rid of my car and I've never been happier or more stress free.
Why on earth are you driving there?
I'm finding country life to be far less stressful than city life for the most part, though getting stuck driving on a narrow dirt road behind a tractor hauling a liquid manure spreader can be rather vexing.
After reading the article and watching the associated video, I am bothered by the conclusion that living in a "city" is the reason for increased levels of anxiety. The CNN report doesn't define a "city". It is left to the reader or viewer to define that.
The largest city in the US is Sitka, AK. It covers 4800 square mile. Scenes of New York City, NY appear in the video but at 470 square miles it is significantly smaller. It's difficult to imagine that residents of Sitka would be more stressed than residents of Nye York City.
It seems to me that the issue is the density, the number of people per square mile.
Wow! You're so clever. Sigh! Unable to use any abstract reasoning. T.O. is not “the city.”
Grew up in a small city but my job kept me traveling to large Cities. Lived in several large cities for many years. Now I live WAAAAAAY OUUUUUUUUUT in the Country. 13 miles from the nearest small town of 5,000. 75 miles from the DFW area. No lights, no noise. Can see every star in the night sky clearly. We do not need a PACIFIER (Security) light washing out the stars at night. It is pitch black at night out here. Even boogeymen and criminals are afraid out here.....they never know what they are going to bump into...LOL! Stress level is way down compared to the NEVER ENDING NOISE, LIGHTS, ETC, of the BIG city.
Maybe it's just because I moved around so much as a kid but I'm pretty comfortable in just about any environment. We moved about every 3 years growing up and to very different places. Of the two high schools I went to, one had more than 5,000 students and the second one had less than 500. I've lived in small towns, the suburbs, lived in Manhattan for a while in my single glory days, lived in Europe for 5 years which definitely had a different feel. And honestly I've loved every place, they all have their charm.
As for now, I live and work in Houston. If I want the hustle and bustle and urban culture I'm 15 minutes away from downtown. If I need to get away from it all I can just head west on I-10 and be in the middle of nowhere in about an hour. It works for me, but I suppose that's the key, just find what works for you.
"More research needs to be done to determine... " Translation: We're out of money. Please send a bunch more.
I live between two cities, equally the same distance. Have lived in several cities in my life time. I'll tell you one thing...even though I do like the fact there is a bit more to do in a city, I do NOT miss living in them! My town is one of the larger ones in the area, yet to most people it's not that big, nor once you get use to it...not that bad. But it is a small town still and it does take time to get to know people. Oh and not every small town person is stupid or a red neck (ran into those in the city too), nor are we "afraid of terrorist"...a few of my friends have served or are currently serving in the military, and we don't all blindly follow any government official announcement. My dad is from a small town and has served in the military, has a masters in biology and is currently working at a second job!
I grew up right outside Charlotte. At the time I was born, Charlotte was barely in the Top 50 among US cities in terms of population – probably about as many people as Greensboro has now. As of the last Census, Charlotte is 17th in population, and it has more cars per capita than any other city in the country outside of Los Angeles.
Much as city living can be a pain sometimes, I prefer living here than living in the surrounding rural areas. If you live in Concord, Gastonia, Lincolnton, Mooresville or Rock Hill, and you work in the city, you're still going to have to drive. The only difference is that you're going to cover more ground than a city-dweller. Public transportation is an afterthought here, probably more so than in any other major city in this country.
There are aspects of rural life that I don't care for, and I don't want to go back to that life if I don't have to. It is nice to get out of the city from time to time to visit my family or just to do different things, but the big city is my home. Wouldn't have it any other way right now.
My experience with stress disorder tells me that because of the continuous higher level of toxic air in the city, high stress will be more normal. Your adrenals are activated by any kind of physical/emotional stress. That is what I experience with my acute sensitivities. This chronic stress tends to weaken adrenals causing chronic adrenal fatigue, leading to multiple symptoms.
You should also read the article on forced stress, here is the deal it does not really matter where you are you could be in a deserted island and be stressed. But the condition surrounding you is the key factor. Example: your neighbor plays loud music 8 hours a day, Or you go shopping say in a flea market and you heare loud unfamilier music such as if your language is english you are subjected to listen to some other noise such as spanish music, specially if you are happy and they play a sad songs over and over or vice versa. Well to a general population this is nothing but these type of stress hits you later in the day or night and can carry on next day or so , you end up having symptoms like headaches, tiredness,etc.
since you do not know where it is comming from you continue having same problems overtime, and doctors can not help you, since this is artificially developed disease, or discomfort. Also another example: Cop stops you and gives you a ticket on 60 mph while you were going 63mph, or better example: You get arrested for something that you should not have been and you are jailed and get an incompetend attorney. Or worse yet if someone artificially exposes you to any of this conditions.
This latter condition can stay with you and strees you for a long long time, almost a lifetime. As result not only you are experiencing less energuy and fatigue (specially if there is nothing you can do about it). So what shoul you do? If you can Change the corruption that causes the latter, and on examples like music call a person in charge and report the unneccessery noise of the music. This can save hours of your life.
Later in life these conditions would slow your memory, so it seriously does effect your brain. Too bad there are no attornies educated to fight on these issues, and most personal injury attornies fight on cases that insurance pays for it! In other words they are useless, and it should be demanded to have universities offer classes to creat attornies who are real attornies and can help on more than accidents, slip and fall or dog bites.So next time you are on a bus and people are talking loud on the phone on playing thier music, take action because these ignorant people have no idea and if they are doing it just because ...Then call the bus system and have them place a sign like please keep the noise down, ...No music while ridding the bus, or keep your phone conversation under one minute.....
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