“Nobody gets depressed in the village, everybody is happy. I learnt about anxiety, depression, bipolar after coming to the city – all this happens in the city. Everyone here glorifies their emotions. When it rains, a labourer or pavement dweller dances – they don’t know anything about depression. As you earn more money, you get these sort of illnesses as well.”
With this comment, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui has sparked off a Twitterstorm with some hailing him to be right, while others calling him ill-informed. Speaking first to Mashable India and then to NDTV, the Sacred Games actor termed depression as an ‘urban issue’ and said that “he could be wrong but it was his experience.”
Actor Gulshan Devaiah took to Twitter to express his disappointment with his senior colleague. “Dritharashtra & Gandhari syndrome. I immensely respect the man for his craft but I’d not take him seriously on this issue. If you even just look at alcoholism or addictions, they exist in rural communities and that’s mental illness. No addict indulges in addiction because they love it. The addiction is a symptom, the real problem is the trauma they can’t heal,” he wrote.
Dritharashtra & Gandhari syndrome. I immensely respect the man for his craft but I’d not take him seriously on this issue.
If you even just look at alcoholism or addictions, they exist in rural communities and that’s mental illness. No addict indulges in addiction because they… https://t.co/msnc9FJW2o
Related ArticlesNawazuddin Siddiqui says no one gets depressed in villages, Gulshan Devaiah retorts, 'I'd not take him seriously'Put that Mobile Down: How using smartphones as kids can cause mental health issues(Video) new interview Nawazuddin Siddiqui on Anxiety and Depression WhatsApp status motivational story
— “SuperGullu” (@gulshandevaiah) May 24, 2023
But is there any truth to what Nawazuddin Siddiqui said? Does living in a city contribute to poor mental health? Can urban living increase the chances of depression? Here’s what we found out.
Urban life and mental health
In 2019, it was said that over half of the world’s population – 4.2 billion people – live in cities. This number has only been rising since then and by 2050, it is estimated that 68 per cent of the population will live in urban areas.
Several studies carried out in the past have highlighted that residents of cities suffer from detrimental effects such as cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases. The risk of having cancer is also higher in cities; living under stressful conditions damages your health. When unhealthy fast food is cheap and healthy food is nowhere to be found, obesity rates rise. And obesity is linked to an increased risk of cancer.
But studies have also shown that urban living can have adverse effects on mental health. The risk of developing depression – the most prevalent mental disorder in the world, characterised by low mood and feeling helpless – is 20 per cent higher in urban dwellers than those who live outside the city.
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The risk of developing psychosis, a severe psychiatric disorder associated with hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and disorganised thought, is 77 per cent higher in urban than rural dwellers. The risk of developing generalised anxiety disorder, a state of mind characterised by feeling anxious and a sense of impending danger or panic, is also 21 per cent higher in urban than rural dwellers.
A 2017 analysis also revealed that the rate of those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anger management was higher among those living in urban areas.
Depression-driving factors in cities
But what is it about cities or urban living that could increase the risk of depression. Mental health experts state there’s a variety of reasons why people in urban setups suffer more from depression than those in the village or in the countryside.
According to psychiatrists, urban living gives the brain a workout, which alters how we cope with stress. They note that the constant stimulation – large crowds, small spaces – can push the body into a state known as fight-or-flight response. This form makes us more vulnerable to mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety and even substance abuse.
Experts state that constant stimulation can also chip away at a person’s psychological system, which can be dangerous for those who have a predisposition to depression.
Living in the city can also get lonely, which can accelerate depression. Venkatesh Babu GM, consultant psychiatrist, department of mental health and neurosciences, Fortis Hospitals told Hindu Business Line, “Loneliness can be seen as both a cause for and consequence of various mental disorders, especially depression. Social isolation is a potent but little understood risk factor for morbidity and mortality.”
He explains that in rural areas people nurture their social networks with the people around them. However, the fast-paced life in the city keeps people from forging meaningful social relationships. The pressures of work and the need to succeed also leave people with no time or inclination for nurturing social relationships.
Experts also state that diminished access to nature and reduced leisure time add to the woes of the urban dweller, making him or her more prone to depression. The large crowds and overpopulation in cities can also lead to noise pollution, keeping people up at night. This can also spell trouble for a person’s mental health.
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All is not well in villages either
But this is not to say that Nawazuddin Siddiqui is right about rural dwellers not having mental health issues. A 2023 study by the University of Houston indicated that Americans who live in more rural areas tend to be more anxious and depressed, as well as less open-minded and more neurotic.
In India, the National Mental Health Survey (NHMS) 2015-16 states that 4.48 per cent of people in rural India had experienced depressive disorders in their lifetime.
Psychiatrists state that owing to the lack of educational facilities, people find it difficult to understand or even have awareness about mental health issues. They often equate mental illness as some form of karmic punishment or black magic. This often leads to stigmatisation of the disease, and people are often shunned from society.
Further isolation is not just a phenomenon in urban areas. Limited internet access and phone service heightens isolation in rural areas. Living in a rural area can mean constantly fearing an emergency and being unable to get help. Like their city-dwelling counterparts, rural residents can be at risk for depression.
In fact, another study by the University of Chicago found that people who live in big cities like Chicago and New York City are less likely to experience depression than those living in rural areas.
As experts state urban living is complex and contradictory. It offers great mental health benefits through increased opportunities in education and employment. It’s the first step towards realising a person’s full potential.
While Nawazuddin has romanticised rustic life, his comments oversimplify a grave problem in not only the country, but also the world. After all, depression, as per data from the World Health Organization in 2022, affects about 280 million people worldwide, including about five per cent of all adults.
With inputs from agencies
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|Net Worth:||$13 Million|
|Net Worth In Indian Rupees:||96 Crore INR|
|Salary:||12 Crore +|
|Monthly Income:||1 Crore +|
|Date of Birth:||May 19, 1974|
The Muslim Kayastha (Urdu: مسلمان کائستھ), also known as Siddiqui, are a community of Muslims, are related to the Kayastha of northern India, mainly modern Uttar Pradesh, who converted to Islam during the rule of the Islamic empires in India.Is Nawaz Siddiqui married? ›
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'Holy Cow' also has a cameo by Aaliya's estranged husband, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui. In a chat with News18, she thanked him for making time for her film. “To play the part of a cop, we needed Nawaz and he knew that. He gave us his time and that's how we cast him in the film,” she said.