Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

Study examines how climate change is stressing us out

Study gives depressing look at how climate change puts Americans’ mental health at risk Health Problems, Global Warming Linked, Per Study
Gustavo Carr | 12 October, 2018, 15:10

For this study, researchers examined the mental health records of 2 million randomly selected USA citizens using data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System between 2002 and 2012, comparing the responses to meteorological and climatic data from the same period. "Exposure to hotter temperatures and higher rates of precipitation in that period produced increases in the probability that people were going to report some mental health problem in that period", Obradovich said.

Anxiety and depression are among the common health challenges resulting from rising global temperature. Over the course of years, every one degree increase in temperature leads to a 2% increase in mental health related issues. Also, the way the question was worded allowed the researchers to identify people who were experiencing mental distress even if they hadn't sought professional health, they wrote.

Especially significant given the dire United Nations climate change report is the authors' finding that people affected by Hurricane Katrina had a 4 percent higher prevalence of mental-health issues than people in comparably sized communities who had not experienced a natural disaster.

In fact, a 1-degree C change - or a 1.8-degree F increase - could cause a 2 percent increase in mental health problems in just five years. In months when it rained for over 25 days, there was a rise in mental health problems by 2 percent, they noted when compared to months when there was no precipitation. "For example, is poor sleep due to hot temperatures the thing that produces mental health problems?"

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Tarun Dua, mental health expert at WHO, explained: "Half of mental health disorders arise before the age of 14". "Yet for too long, mental health has been mostly an afterthought, despite its overwhelming impacts on communities and young people, everywhere". "It is time to act on mental health".

So, why don't people who live in warmer places generally have worse mental health than people in colder places? Further low-income individuals seemed to be affected more (60 percent more) with climate change than other income groups.

Other studies have found a connection between suicide rates and temperature.

"The most important point of this new study is that climate change, indeed, is affecting mental health, and certain populations (women and the poor) are disproportionally impacted", said Dr. Jonathan Patz, a professor, and director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said. In this report, respondents had to answer how many days during the last month they felt that their mental health was not very good, including depression, stress, and emotions.