A heat wave is choking much of the western region, including Los Angeles. Such worrisome weather trends may contribute to climate stress.

Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A heat wave is choking much of the western region, including Los Angeles. Such worrisome weather trends may contribute to climate stress.

Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Climate change has caused more intense wildfires, heat waves, floods and hurricanes, prolonged allergy seasons and caused other forms of visible harm. and creative problem-solving, which is a deterioration of mental health.

The COVID pandemic has been a time of immense suffering. According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of depression and anxiety increased by 25% globally in the first year of the pandemic. We are vulnerable and vulnerable and struggling to bounce back after two and a half turbulent years.

But our daily memories of global warming — extreme heat, water rations, and arid landscapes — threaten to exacerbate the situation, and there is no medicine or vaccine to save us.

Climate change directly affects mood

Fever itself is associated with mental illness. Mood disorders, anxiety, and aggressive behavior are associated with elevated body temperature. A 2019 study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that days with temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit had a 5.7 percent increase in violent crime in Los Angeles than days with cooler temperatures.

The authors of a 2018 study published in Nature predicted that warming could lead to as many as 40,000 more suicides in the United States and Mexico by 2050.

“Mental health and psychosocial well-being decline as there is a direct link and the pressures of climate change increase,” says Kelly Wangen, a psychiatrist in private practice in Southern California.

People facing climate-related natural disasters often struggle with mental health issues. Hurricanes and wildfires lead to death and property destruction in the short term. However, it can also cause depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal thoughts.

Droughts can disrupt food and water supplies, lead to loss of livelihoods, push entire families and communities into poverty, and can be a risk factor for mental illness. More than 40% of her Americans live in counties that experienced extreme weather in 2021, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Climate change will also lead to population shifts as sea level rise, droughts and other weather events make parts of the planet uninhabitable. The result is more conflict and stress, both of which increase the likelihood of mental health problems.

Fighting Pervasive Fear

The existential fear of climate change is a broader concern, even if it is more subtle and less disabling than mental illness caused by acute events. Feeling hopeless and helpless, fearing what will happen, and feeling it is inevitable.

Austin-based psychiatrist Daniel Hochman said, “I haven’t been to the clinic primarily because of climate-related anxiety, but it’s been a long time since I’ve found it along with other social and societal fears. Common.

A 2020 poll by the American Psychiatric Association found that 67% of Americans are somewhat or extremely worried about the effects of climate change, and 55% are concerned about its impact on their mental health. rice field.

According to Hochman, climate anxiety, also known as “climate change,” “climate grief,” or “environmental anxiety,” can manifest as dysthymia, in which people are saddened by the state of the world and can be described as generalized anxiety disorder. be a cause of Major depressive disorder, panic disorder, insomnia.

For children and young people, who recognize they have the most to lose, the climate crisis is a common bane. A global survey published in The Lancet in December found that nearly 60 percent of respondents aged 16 to her 25 said they were “very” or “extremely” concerned about climate change. Reported. A further 25% admitted to feeling “somewhat” anxious. Over 45% say climate change is having a negative impact on their daily lives.

what you can do about it

This summer’s record-breaking heat wave has seen both failures and successes in tackling climate change. On June 30, the US Supreme Court undermined the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions. But last week, Congress passed a bill that provides nearly $400 billion in tax credits for clean energy projects to slow global warming.

As we move to address the overt impacts of climate change, we recommend following WHO recommendations to include mental health and psychosocial support. We also need more funding for mental health and climate change mitigation.

Bob Doppelt, coordinator of the International Transformational Resilience Coalition and author of forthcoming book Preventing and Healing Trauma from Climate Change: A Guide to Building Resilience and Hope in Communitieslaments the inadequacy of our “crisis and disease-focused” mental health, social services, and disaster response systems.

To address the ‘giant climate emergency’, he calls for public health approaches to prevent and heal trauma, and is working on federal legislation to support mental health and resilience in communities .

For those like me who often view the weather forecast with a sense of doom, Wangen recommends channeling your concerns toward positive change. Here are some ideas:

1) Join locally

“Find ways to make an impact locally and on a large scale, no matter how small,” Wangen said. He increases stress-reduction practices such as meditation and prayer, and focuses on “the present to maintain a here-and-now perspective where change can occur and life can be lived.”

2) Pay attention to small signs of progress

Doppelt encourages people to “join existing neighborhood or community-based coalitions or join with friends and colleagues to strengthen population-wide capacity for mental health and transformational resilience to accumulate adversity. He said that small signs of progress help create hope.

3) Join the conversation

Other innovative strategies for addressing personal environmental concerns include attending climate cafés, which encourage climate conversation and political engagement. The Good Grief Network is another option to build resilience and inspire meaningful action.

4) Put things in perspective

Hochman also reminds us to get some perspective: Extreme poverty and famine are declining compared to 30 years ago, he notes. Before the pandemic, life expectancy was at a record high. Energy and clean water become more accessible.

“Despite climate change, this is the safest, best time to be alive,” he said.

This article was produced by Public Health Watch.

Lisa Doggett, Austin physician and senior medical director at HGS AxisPoint Health, said: public health watch, a non-profit investigative news organization. The views expressed in her columns do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of her HGS AxisPoint Health or Public Health Watch.

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