Climate change has an adverse effect on our mental health in addition to other environmental factors. The American Psychological Association (APA) has recognized direct trauma and eco-anxiety as the two main ways that environmental deterioration affects mental health. The former is concerned with the effects of natural disasters on mental health, whereas the latter is concerned with the dread of environmental catastrophe.
Trauma associated to climate change that has been directly experienced can result in PTSD, which can then lead to despair, anxiety, substance abuse, violence, aggression, social issues, and suicide ideation. Communities that have been through numerous disasters are less likely to be able to overcome their mental health concerns. The repercussions are extensive and include physical illnesses brought on by stress, unhealthy coping mechanisms, shattered family and friend networks, isolation, and loneliness.
Heat-Related Mental Distress
According to the APA, hotter weather is associated with an increase in hostility and violence. This is because hotter weather increases our arousal levels and decreases our capacity to control our emotions, leading to more pessimistic thoughts and irrational outbursts. In hospitals, heat-related diseases and fatalities are increasing while cold-related medical problems are declining.
Eco-anxiety, which is a side consequence of climate change, is characterized by persistent feelings of rage, helplessness, tiredness, or all three. Individuals who experience eco-anxiety may feel excessive guilt about their role in environmental deterioration. Eco-anxiety also affects our capacity to relate to others, which can lead to strained relationships with friends, family, and coworkers.
Encourage Ecological Changes
The APA advises using eco-anxiety to find “Constructive Unpleasant Emotions” (CUEs) by using this energy to build resilience on a personal level, prepare for probable hazards, and identify practical methods to support our communities.
It is possible to promote environmentally friendly lifestyle modifications and eliminate inequalities that make some people more vulnerable. To be stronger stewards of the earth, we must approach these tasks from a place of empathy rather than frustration and cultivate healthy mental health.
Our mental health is harmed by environmental deterioration, which can lead to PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance addiction, violence, aggression, social issues, and suicide thoughts. Warmer temperatures enhance violence, and eco-anxiety breeds guilt and deteriorates interpersonal relationships. We should strengthen our own resiliency and empathically support our communities if we want to encourage eco-friendly reforms. To be a more effective defender of the environment, one must have good mental health.