Risk of psychosis: urban people get sick more often

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Psychosis risk: urban people are more likely to develop mental illnesses.

(08.09.2010) British researchers from the Institute of Psychological Medicine and Neurology at Cardiff University in the UK have found in a study of more than 200,000 people that people living in cities are at higher risk of mental illness than villagers. The reason: lack of social cohesion in the cities.

Mental illnesses can take various forms, such as: B. express depressed moods, changed perception of reality or loss of reference to reality, and are triggered by various causes. The fact that such mental disorders occur more frequently in city dwellers has long been suspected by experts and has been investigated in various studies. The results so far have been underpinned in the present study and the researchers also offered a new explanation for the causes. Those who grow up in the country are far less likely to suffer from mental illnesses, according to the researchers at the Institute for Psychological Medicine and Neurology at Cardiff University in the UK.

The study leader Stanley Zammit justifies this in the journal "Archives of General Psychiatry" with the fact that "there are quarters (in cities) ... more often than in rural areas, in which many people move to and from and in which many single parents are involved their children live. "So" (the researchers) assume that the residents of such neighborhoods have on average less stable social networks and that this could play a role in the development of psychotic diseases, "Zammit further explained the results of the study. The investigation of the relationships between place of residence, school career, possible hospital stays and non-affective psychoses of the test subjects revealed, according to the researchers, that “the breakdown of social structures (...) was the most important factor (related) to the residential area, which increased the risk of psychosis Explains people who grow up in cities. "The term non-affective psychoses is used by scientists to understand illnesses of schizophrenia and related psychoses, whereas affective psychoses are, for example, severe depression or manias, although in previous studies depression was not a city-country Difference could be determined.

Older studies came to similar results to the study by the School of Medicine at Cardiff University, but they justified this with the higher population density, noise, overstimulation or higher levels of violent crime in cities. However, in the current analysis of anonymised data from 203,829 Sweden, a different connection between non-affective psychoses and social fragmentation at the place of residence emerged. According to this, urbanity goes hand in hand with a higher risk of psychosis, especially as the decay of social communities within cities is progressing. The researchers also assume that not only integration, but also the "localized feeling of security, cohesion and community spirit" are decisive for the risk of non-affective psychoses. According to the results of the study, the social environment plays a far greater role than the individual dispositions of the people.

So far, however, there has been controversy among the experts as to whether the results of the British researchers are so clearly valid or whether they simply "move people who are already at risk more often to cities than others," explained Norbert Kathmann, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Humboldt -University in Berlin compared to “Spiegel Online.” This would not be the social environment in the city responsible for the disease, but given psychosis would be the reason for moving to the city. According to Kathmann, there is also the risk of statistical bias because “clinics in the city and in the country may differ in their admission policies. "According to the expert," it is conceivable that rural psychiatric centers only accept people with severe psychoses, whereas those in the city already accept patients with mild symptoms. " Therefore, the results so far are not sufficient to be able to clearly identify causes for the increased prevalence of schizophrenia in cities. It could also be that urban people tend to go to a doctor or psychiatric clinic because of the feeling of loneliness - if only because of the need for contact. (fp)

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Image: Barbara Eckholdt, Pixelio.de.

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