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Updated: March 17, 2013 18:30 IST

Walking a tightrope

HEMJIT BHARATHAN
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The daily traffic bottlenecks, the road rage, hectic lifestyles, job pressure and stiff competition has made the urbanite edgy, jumpy and jittery.
The Hindu
The daily traffic bottlenecks, the road rage, hectic lifestyles, job pressure and stiff competition has made the urbanite edgy, jumpy and jittery.

Are rapid industrialisation, an increase in population and haphazard development causing frayed nerves among city dwellers?

With the urban sprawl stretching to near infinity, life in the city can sure be a fascinating experience. Cities today vie for the title of the best and develop with lightning speed. With multiple malls, multiplexes, international brands and global cuisines available urbanites never had it so good. The fun and excitement never cease with endless shopping and restaurant hopping. With pleasures ranging from the simple to guilty the city is a vast ocean of entertainment and beckons you to enjoy, indulge and indulge again.

A bleak picture

But that is one side of the story, here is the flip side of the same coin. The city is considered an unfriendly place. Most people are focussed only on their concerns and appear selfish. Besides, urban dwellers are subjected to more noise,jostling, manhandling and chaos. Increasing fuel consumption, the consequent pollution and inefficient planning to accommodate the ever expanding projects has converted city life into mayhem. The daily traffic bottlenecks, the road rage, hectic lifestyles, job pressure and stiff competition has taken its toll and the urbanite today is most often edgy, jumpy and jittery.

With the continuous stress and strain of the city many find it difficult to keep a clear head. As environment has a lot to do with mental health it is feared that more and more urbanites may find themselves on the psychiatrist’s couch with symptoms of depression, phobias, psychosis, schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. Is the city driving all of us mad? Are we going bonkers?

Dr. Diljit B., a city-based psychiatrist, clears such apprehensions and misgivings. He says, “It is true that life in the city can be hectic with increasing pressure and tension. But most city dwellers go to resorts and other holiday spots for a respite and not to psychiatrists for treatment. The pressures of city life are not severe enough to cause mental disorders which are very deep rooted. Till now such a trend has not been observed.”

Nevertheless, cities today get more and more chaotic. Lured by the prospect of work and opportunities, migration and overcrowding in cites contribute to the chaos. Will the cramming and herding have an adverse effect on our mental well being? Diljit clarifies, “Life in the city with all its teeming millions can be lonely for the migrant working class who are new to the city. They may experience social isolation and seclusion. But it won’t be long before they adjust and adapt. Those who grew up in cities and are familiar with it can tackle the stress better. After all a little tension and pressure are healthy.”

A necessary strain?

To the harried and beleaguered city folks this is encouraging and a big relief. It is a message to take it easy, that urban life with all its pleasures and perils is not as threatening and menacing as it looks.

Looking at it from an evolutionary point of view, the stress response to city life is definitely a good thing. It is a good training ground and helps us to survive.

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