Will climate change hurt our mental health?

As politics reverses environmental protection,
new reports suggest your mental health may be at risk.

Depression, anxiety, PTSD from global warmingCan’t pinpoint why you or those around you are feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed? For some of us, it's at least partly due to the effects of climate change. A report issued by the U.S. Global Change Research Program finds evidence of this: “Climate change is an ongoing threat, and the psychological implications are occurring here and now,” says Joseph Reser, PhD, a report contributor.

Atmospheric warming increases the likelihood of extreme weather events, such as droughts, storms, and floods, events that have more than doubled in the past thirty years. Being in the midst of a natural disaster can cause clinical anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (as seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, etc.). Media images of flooding or drought, climate-driven changes to your neighborhood, financial costs from warming - any of these can influence your mental well-being, according to the American Psychological Association.

Mental health problems are very costly to treat. And even if your family manages to dodge them, members of your community may be at risk as our climate changes, in turn raising pressures for more town and state taxes to fund local health, community support, and police services.

What can you do? The APA recommends some lifestyle choices and actions you can take to help climate-proof your mental well-being. Among them, develop and routinely practice a household emergency plan; build up a stronger social network with family, friends, and neighbors; get an all-in-this-together conversation started in your community! Check out the full report for more suggestions to protect yourself and your neighbors against growing threats to your psyche and your wallet.

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