World Mental Health Day: Climate change responsible for depression, anxiety
With the recent changes in climate, billions of people across the world are exposed to more heat waves, rise in sea level and extreme weather conditions. While this can leave long lasting health issues in many, a study published in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences states that climate change can lead to deteriorating mental health, reported Pacific Standard.
Earlier studies showed that the rise in temperatures was linked to irregular sleeping patterns, bad moods and a higher risk of attempting suicide. This led research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nick Obradovich, to study the effects of climate change on issues such as depression, anxiety and stress. He looked at self-reported mental health data for over two million US residents between 2002 and 2012 and compared it to the meteorological records.
“Generally what we found was that exposure to hotter temperatures and more precipitation increased the reporting of mental health problems. Months with more than 25 days of rain increased the chances of mental health problems by 2%, while temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius led to a 0.5% increase,” added Obradovich.
The data also reveals that the risk of mental health related issues is more likely to affect people with low incomes and women as compared to men. Over the course of years, every one degree increase in temperature leads to a 2% increase in mental health related issues. Natural disasters can make that number jump to 4%.
But Obradovich believes there’s always some kind of uncertainty. He said, “Down the road, we could be more resilient to climate change decades down the road. Imagine a world where everyone has access to incredible, scientifically informed mental-health care. In that world, the effect between hot temperatures and mental-health outcomes might be reduced.”