Some of the burden on city dwellers’ mental health can be traced to social problems such as loneliness and the stress of living cheek-by-jowl with thousands or even millions of other people. But there’s something about the physical nature of cities that also seems to put a strain on the emotional wellbeing of their inhabitants. City life means dealing with stressors like air and noise pollution stemming from traffic, construction, or your neighbors. However, it’s only in recent years that scientists have begun to seriously study the mechanisms through which exposure to various environmental stressors could be wounding our mental health, says Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, director of the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany. “It’s an emerging field,” he says.