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Climate Change: How it Brings Climate Anxiety and Mental Illnesses

More than the death, injuries, displacement, damage of properties, and deteriorating environment brought about by climate change, we are faced with another unseen concern: climate anxiety leading to mental illness.

2020 is not an easy year for everyone. In the middle of a pandemic that has claimed more than a million lives worldwide, the American west became engulfed in flames. This year is also the hottest summer on record. These reports unfold the realities of climate change right before our eyes.

Climate Change: How it Brings Climate Anxiety and Mental Illnesses

(Photo: Pixabay)
More than the death, injuries, displacement, damage of properties, and deteriorating environment brought about by climate change, we are faced with another unseen concern: climate anxiety leading to mental illness.


READ: Wildfires’ Negative Impacts on the Health and Economy of California

Climate Anxiety

Although denial continues to hinder responses and action to climate change, nearly three fourth of Americans think climate change is happening. Sixty percent think that it is caused by humans, and two-thirds think they are at least “somewhat worried” about it.

Recently, the term “climate anxiety” has been coined to aptly describe the growing concerns about climate change.

Although experts think that climate anxiety can be identified and measured reliably, it is not clear how it relates to mental illness.

However, mental health providers have recently noted the presence of climate anxiety in their patients.  How climate anxiety influences mental illnesses are still unclear, according to mental health experts but there is growing evidence that addresses this question.

READ NEXT: Rising Nitrous Oxide Emissions From Farming Threaten Paris Agreement Goals

Climate Anxiety and Mental Illnesses

For years now, mental health experts have noticed that climate anxiety has influenced presentations of mental illness in various ways.

Brian Barnett of Scientific American outlines cases of climate anxiety borders on mental illnesses.

 Here are some of those influences that the mental health experts noted:

  • Medical literature reported of a 17-year patient who became so concerned about climate change that it made him delusional. He believes that he continues to drink water or use it for domestic purposes, millions of people will die because of his consumption of their water supplies.
  • A study on obsessive-compulsive disorder individuals in Australia indicates that almost a third of individuals with OCD had the compulsion to focused on checking light switches, water taps, stoves, and other items to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • A US survey of 340 people published in 2018 indicates that climate concerns were linked with depressive symptoms. The study also suggests that ecological coping may decrease depression and increase pro-environmental behaviors.
  • In Tuvalu, an island country in the Pacific Ocean, a recent survey suggests that 87 percent of respondents reported severe climate anxiety that it impaired the respondent’s ability to perform at least one activity of daily living. The island is at a significant risk of being devastated by climate change in the near future.
  • Climate anxiety tends to happen more on individuals with more concern about environmental issues. Climatologists, for example, face more risks given their in-depth knowledge of the issue. Adding to the pressure is the frustrating task of trying to convey it to individuals or governments that may deny or downplay it.
  • In a recent national survey, the young people showed a demographic with alarming concern: 57 percent of American teens feel afraid and 43 percent admit they feel hopeless. Young people believe that climate change poses a serious threat in their lifetimes.
  • Many younger people embrace the likelihood that they may be inheriting a dying planet. Many are so concerned that they considered not having children so as to reduce carbon footprint. These worries are particularly alarming as suicide rates among adolescents and young adults especially those of ages 10-14.
  • recent survey on almost 200 people suggests that while climate anxiety is associated with an emotional response to climate change, it is not correlated to the behavioral response.

READ NEXT: Red Seaweed Reduces Methane ‘Belching’ by Cattle, Could Help Alleviate Climate Change

Check out more news and information on Climate Change on Nature World News.

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