Climate Change (Or the Thought of It) May Cause Depression, Anxiety

My husband and I talk about this all the time, how some politicians think global warming (or the new PC term, climate change) is false.

I know it may be hard to believe when it snows three times in April (and only once in all of January, February and March) but March was the 2nd or 3rd warmest ever and last year was the warmest ever, beating out 2014 by a hair.  2016 looks to end up even warmer. And if we keep going, Manhattan will be under several hundred feet of water in the next century. 

But there's no such thing as climate change.

Anyway, a new study has found that the threat of climate change has been found to be a key psychological and emotional stressor.

According to, consequences can range from minimal stress and distress to clinical disorders, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal thoughts.

 Messages from the media, as well as public communication about climate change, can affect perceptions of physical and societal risks, consequently affecting mental health and well-being, the study cites. An estimated 40 percent of Americans report hearing about climate change in the media at least once a month, and about half of Americans reported being worried about climate change in 2015, according to a survey, the study report states.

 We blame the media for a lot, I know, and I don't necessarily agree.  But we are exposed to news from all over quicker and more intensely than ever before, thanks to our wired world.

And what about natural disasters? Following exposure to Hurricane Katrina, veterans with pre-existing mental illness were at an almost 7 times greater risk for developing any additional mental illness, compared to those veterans without a pre-existing mental illness. Following hurricanes, increased levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been experienced by individuals who report less community support and help from neighbors and others.

In more extreme cases, such as natural disasters causing injuries and deaths, damaged homes and communities, individuals may experience PTSD, anxiety disorders, grief, and depression. All of these reactions have the potential to interfere with the individual’s functioning and well-being, according to the report.

Those who have been directly affected by a climate- or weather-related disaster are at increased incidence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Increases in both suicidal thoughts (from 2.8% to 6.4%) and actual suicidal plans (from 1.0% to 2.5%) were observed in residents 18 months after Hurricane Katrina. Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, a study of internally displaced women living in temporary housing found reported rates of suicide attempt and completion to be 78.6 times and 14.7 times the regional average, respectively. 

So what does this have to do with climate change?  People may have distress when hearing about the looming disasters that may await us in a warming world.  Oh, wait, I forgot.  No such thing.


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