A visit to the climate anxiety doctor

Categories: Big picture
Published on: August 5, 2016

The Tyee / Stephanne Taylor / 04 August 2016

ClimateAnxietyIn the psychological literature, there is an increasing body of research demonstrating the toll that climate change can take. Climate change can affect mental health both as a result of individual significant weather events, and as a result of more gradual changes in climate. Psychologists have found that catastrophic events induce different mental health issues than gradual changes: catastrophic events are more likely to induce trauma responses, major depression, and complicated grief, while gradual changes can cause anxiety, fatalism, and chronic depression.

A common thread running through all these effects is fear of an increasingly uncertain future, and the anxiety that fear generates is often not constructively addressed. Climate scientists, who spend their working lives detailing the nuances of the planet’s increasingly grim prospects may be particularly susceptible to climate-related mental health issues, but the general public is also at risk.