One aspect of climate change that isn’t often considered is how it can impact our mental health. This may seem a strange idea at first glance. However, as the deeper implications of climate change become better understood, the dangers become clear. Consider the impact changing weather patterns can have on us. When we get too hot, it’s common to experience higher irritation, get tired quicker, and rest poorly. This simple change in weather patterns can cause instability in our jobs, lifestyles, and stability. High temperatures and drought-hit farmers can impact their income and sense of stability. This leads to anxiety, depression, and frustration, emotions that can seep into every area of our lives. This is just one way that climate change can impact our mental health.
Understanding The Risks Climate Change Poses To Our Mental Health
The underlying impacts of climate change are broader than we might imagine. There has been a notable increase in the number of storms that occur each year. This is especially true in areas like Louisiana and the Midwest. Hurricanes are a part of life in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. When families left their homes before Katrina, it was part of a normal yearly ritual many of them observed. They packed their bags for a few weeks, found a hotel away from the storm, and settled in, confident they’d return to their homes soon. Instead, many lost their homes and everything they contained due to the storm. Worse, entire lives were upset as people lost careers, loved ones perished, and friends were left behind as they moved away from the area.
Situations like these make it clear that the risk climate change poses to our mental health is a relevant concern. Many of those who lived through Katrina experience symptoms of PTSD and lived in fear of storms in general. This has led to studies exploring how people respond to the events related to climate change and how we might prepare. In the aftermath of Katrina alone, there were increases in anxiety and mood disorders, PTSD, suicide, and suicidal ideation. Some warning signs of mental health trauma in those who lived through catastrophic weather-related events include:
- Substance Use Issues
The mental health impact of these events is often temporary, fading with time. However, in many patients, they become a chronic concern. This result is common in those who don’t seek the necessary support to help them cope with these situations. Those who already live with mental health concerns are prone to developing lasting problems following these events.
Your Mental Health Professional Can Help You Prepare
As climate change concerns continue to increase, it’s important to seek help. If you occupy a region that tends to see severe weather events, your mental health professional can help you prepare. However, if you have lived through a climate change-related catastrophe, they can help you learn how to manage your emotions related to them. Those that seek help are usually able to avoid lasting mental health concerns after these events. Reach out to your mental health professional to schedule a session today!