Coping with global warming, rising mental issues

Health Problems, Global Warming Linked, Per Study

Because certain factors, such as lifetime adaptations to climate, can not be accounted for, the new study allows the researchers to say only that, on average, "warming over time associates with worsened mental health over time", he said. It gives them evidence that hotter temperatures across the United States of America worsen mental health of residents.

But that's not all: The study used climate change models to predict that anywhere between 9,000 to 40,000 suicides could be caused by climate change by the year 2050 if nothing is done to stop the rising temperatures.

Published Monday in the journal PNAS, the study looked at mental health issues and compared them to climate data in search of trends. 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. In addition, they also reported that a 1 degree Celsius increase in average temperature was associated with a 2 percentage point increased prevalence of mental health issues.

The CDC data showed that after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast region in August 2005, reports of mental health problems increased in places with declared disasters.

"We find that experience with hotter temperatures and added precipitation each worsen mental health, that multiyear warming associates with an increased prevalence of mental health issues, and that exposure to tropical cyclones, likely to increase in frequency and intensity in the future, is linked to worsened mental health", the study's authors wrote. The authors explain that yearly warming climates, short term exposure to extremes of weather as well as routine exposure to cycles could have a detrimental effect on the mental health of individuals. "Yet for too long, mental health has been mostly an afterthought, despite its overwhelming impacts on communities and young people, everywhere".

Researchers have added a note to their study saying that the major limitation of this study was that the data came from a developed nation and from temperate climates. "It is time to act on mental health". However, "there are many other place-specific factors that may moderate the effect".

Some people were more vulnerable than others, the researchers found.

Patz, who was not involved in the new research, said the strength of the study includes the high number of participants but noted that the data are "based on a single question about one's mental health and only at the monthly level".

Is it possible that climate change can make a harmful impact on our mental health?

He said millions of people are caught up in conflict and disasters, putting them at risk of a range of long-term mental health problems.

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