Climate change could have adverse effects on mental health

A new report has found that climate change has significant adverse effects on mental health.

David Sims | Apr 17, 2017

A new report has found that climate change has significant adverse effects on mental health.

The new research, released by the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica, says that severe weather effects caused by climate change can lead to shock. The shock could be as a result of personal injuries, loss of a loved one, damage to or loss of property, and also the loss of a livelihood.

For instance, among a sample of people residing in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina the rates of suicide and suicidal thoughts doubled.

One in six individuals in the area met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. At least 49 percent of residents in an affected area developed a mood or anxiety disorder such as depression.

The effects of climate change, however, are not confined to severe disaster occurrences. There are mental health impacts catalyzed by longer-term climate change impacts.

For instance, climate changes can affect agriculture, infrastructure, and livability. This can affect people's occupations and quality of life, in adverse scenarios forcing them to relocate, reducing them to climate change refugees.

These effects can lead to the loss of personal and professional identity, loss of social support structures, and a loss of sense of control and autonomy.

Other mental health impacts of climate change include a feeling of helplessness, fear, and fatalism.

These adverse mental health effects can also impact on physical health. High levels of stress and anxiety can lead to adverse physical health effects such as a weakened immune system.

"Researchers have found that higher levels of social support during and in the aftermath of a disaster are associated with lower rates of psychological distress," the report said.

Methods to develop resilience in individuals include boosting personal preparedness, encouraging connection to family and friends.





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