Eco-Anxiety: Is Climate Change Really Affecting Our Mental Health?

Anxiety over environmental degradation or ecological catastrophe is known as eco-anxiety. If a person is living in chronic fear of environmental damage and destruction, they might be suffering from eco-anxiety, also known as climate-change anxiety!

[ Anxiety over environmental degradation or ecological catastrophe is known as eco-anxiety. If a person is living in chronic fear of environmental damage and destruction, they might be suffering from eco-anxiety, also known as climate-change anxiety.]

Did you know that an increase in water and hunger crises, ocean acidification, and the increasing spread of pathogens are just a few of the indirect consequences of climate change?

Our actions have altered the Earth’s climatic conditions, and the repercussions are becoming painfully visible.

As per the latest IPCC report, warming will likely approach or surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in the next 20 years. The seas warm-up, the water cycle intensifies, and frozen regions of the world keep melting.

While these results may give us a sense of dread, they arrive at a pivotal moment in the history of humankind, when environmental awareness is at an all-time peak.

We have long moved past dismissing indicators of climate change as yet another stage in the natural cycle of global warming and cooling.

Due to this, people are becoming increasingly aware of climate change. A feeling of desperation about reversing the effects of global warming hits them. Is it odd that people are becoming increasingly concerned about the present condition of Earth? I don’t think so!

Is that it? An impending sense of doom? The consequences of environmental change, such as food scarcity, community destruction, and restricted access to healthcare, can cause substantial distress and anguish.

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The gradual effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and shifting weather patterns, may potentially exacerbate chronic mental health
disorders.

What is eco-anxiety?

Anxiety over environmental degradation or ecological catastrophe is known as eco-anxiety. This concern stems primarily from the current and projected status of the environment and human-caused climate change.

In 2017, the American Psychiatric Association stated that eco-anxiety is:

“A chronic fear of environmental doom.”

These terms mentioned below recognize that this issue frequently includes symptoms that go beyond anxiety.

What are the effects of eco-anxiety on mental health?

According to the American Psychological Association, a changing environment can have a variety of effects on mental health, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Trauma/shock
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Aggression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Reduced feelings of control and autonomy
  • Feelings of despair, helplessness, and fatalism

People who suffer from eco-anxiety may also suffer from anxiety symptoms overall.

A loss of important locations may have an impact on certain people. Lack of work stability or danger to one’s livelihood, for example, can have serious mental health consequences.

The cause of chronic or severe stress can raise the risk of several significant health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression.

Who gets affected?

Environmental factors may put the following persons at a higher risk of physical and mental
health problems:

  • Indigenous communities
  • Low-income families or those with a poor socioeconomic status
  • Young children, teenagers, and older adults
  • First responders in the event of a natural disaster
  • People with pre-existing medical problems or mental illnesses (like anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, or severe depressive disorder)

What are the symptoms?

Eco-anxiety lacks precise diagnostic criteria, since it is not classified as a diagnosable mental disease by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

There are numerous ways climate change might impair mental wellbeing, according to research. If any of the following apply to you, you may be suffering from eco-anxiety:

  • Feeling powerless
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms
  • Panic attacks
  • Physical symptoms (difficulty concentrating, unexplained muscle pains, digestive problems, insomnia, restlessness, excessive sweating, frequent headaches, racing heart, trembling/shaking)

To summarize, eco-anxiety is fear for the future of the Earth and the life it supports. It’s easy to get discouraged when you hear bad news about the environment.

If environmental issues are interfering with your everyday life, you should seek advice from a mental health professional. It’s fine to be sad, upset, frustrated, or despondent about situations that are beyond your control.

Image Source: eclipse_images via, Getty Images Signature, free on Canva Pro

References

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Mirali Borde

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