Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Melissa Coleman

Reader 2

Brian Duistermars

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Rights Information

2022 Natalie A Akins


Urbanization is causing a demographic and cultural shift to the landscape of cities across the globe. Although urban living can be advantageous for both individual and societal growth, it can negatively affect mental health and wellbeing. Individuals living in urban environments have an increased risk for mental disorders like depression and schizophrenia. Certain challenges common in urban environments and associated with increased stress, may be causing the increase with mental illness. Chronic stress and the subsequent hyperactivation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and sustained synthesis of glucocorticoids is detrimental to metabolic, endocrine, and immunologic processes. The overexposure to glucocorticoids can lead to pathological states like depression and increases in dopaminergic circuits common in schizophrenia. As urbanization continues to increase worldwide, how does the prolonged stress of urban living impact the brain and increase the risk of psychiatric disorders? Solutions to reduce stress like proper urban planning and design that implements green space and addresses chronic homelessness can be beneficial for improving and sustaining better mental health.