Urban stress plays an important role in women’s psychological and physical health. This serves to highlight the importance of including these, as measures, in environmental health studies. Urban interventions, such as promoting alternative transport options, should additionally be addressed to improve health of urban populations.

For the attention of: Urban and transport planners, public health professionals.

The problem: Women in urban neighbourhoods often face disproportionately higher levels of environmental and social stressors. However, the health effects from urban stressors remains poorly understood.

What we did and why: We comprehensively measured urban annoyance from environmental and social stressors in the built environment. Then we evaluated associations between urban stress and symptoms depression, fatigue, and sleep disruption in a cohort of 460 women in Mexico City.

What our study adds: We found high prevalence of annoyance overall and across several domains. We found these, in particularly, for domains related to incivilities encountered in the shared use of public spaces. We also found them in relation to lack of control over time due to driving cars, and population density. Our main findings showed associations between total perceived urban stress, and individual domains, with symptoms of depression in women.

Implications for city policy and practice: Cities offer many potential opportunities including access to health care, education, and social interactions, However, individuals in cities may also be exposed to much higher levels of environmental and social stressors. Given the rapid increases in urbanization and potential impacts on physical and mental health outcomes; it is critical that public health researchers team up with urban and transport planners to design cities that promote healthy and active lifestyles.

Full research article: Urban stress and its association with symptoms of depression, fatigue, and sleep disruption in women in Mexico City by Laura A. McGuinn, Maria José Rosa, Erika Osorio-Valencia, Iván Gutiérrez-Avila, Sandra Martinez-Medina, Homero Harari, Itai Kloog, Rosalind J. Wright, Martha Maria Téllez-Rojo, Robert O. Wright and Marcela Tamayo-Ortiz