Global Warming Might Endanger Your Mental Health


Global warming could affect more than just climate, according to a new article in the Boston Globe. Research shows that it may also have a dramatic effect on your mental health.

The article states:

“There is evidence that extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, cyclones, and hurricanes, can lead to emotional distress, which can trigger such things as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, in which the body's fear and arousal system kicks into overdrive.”

According to a 2006 study by the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group, rates of severe mental illness doubled in the surrounding region after Hurricane Katrina, and rates of mild to moderate mental illness increased significantly as well. 

"After a disaster, people can feel inadequate, like outside forces are taking control of their lives," said Joshua Miller, a professor at the Smith College School for Social Work, in a statement to the Globe. “They can't see a positive future. They tend to lose hope or become depressed.” Miller went on to emphasize that severe disasters also destroy the infrastructure needed to provide mental health care, which displaces people and severs social connections when people need them the most.

Researchers are saying that the effects of global warming on the natural environment will have their own negative mental health impacts. According to Carol North at the Dallas VA Medical Center, “It’s not all trauma.” She went on to tell the Globe, “Some of it's a quiet decline of quality of life.”

Referring to the depletion of natural resources and disruption of the global food supply, North warned about the possibility of “declining socioeconomic status and quality of life across the world, as well as “depression, demoralization, disillusionment.”

To combat this growing problem, Miller is urging that more people be trained in “psychological first aid.” The Globe defines this as “making sure people feel safe after a natural disaster, and educating them about the kinds of psychological responses they might experience.”

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