The climate-induced mental health issues, studies indicate, are only going to deepen going forward
One more study has drawn a connection between climate change and mental health. The research published by Lancet Planetary Health has revealed that extreme heat and humidity led to depression and anxiety in Bangladesh.
Scientists at Georgetown University and colleagues at George Washington University and the World Bank in Bangladesh examined 43 weather stations across the country for humidity over a two-month period which experiences extreme flooding and cyclones.
The takeaways were shocking: The overall prevalence of depression was found to be 16.3 percent, compared to the global rate of 4.4 percent. Anxiety rates were also higher compared to the rest of the world, 6 percent to 3.6 percent respectively.
Similarly, the individuals who experienced a one-degree Celsius temperature rise during the period were found to have a 21 percent higher probability of an anxiety disorder and a 24 percent higher likelihood of co-occurring depression and anxiety.
The scientists, however, agreed that longer duration research was needed to guage major climate change impact, especially the one linking climate change with mental health outcomes.
"The research into the impact of climate change on mental health is still in its infancy but the studies conducted so far have been able to establish a credible link."
The growing levels of anxiety connected to climate change were attempted to be quantified in research published in 2021 by The Lancet. It was found that 84 percent of the young people polled were "moderately worried" about climate change, while 59 percent of them were "extremely worried." More than half of the respondents claimed to have felt depressed, nervous, angry, guilty, or helpless as a result of climate change, and 45 percent said that their concern over it had a detrimental influence on their everyday life.
Subsequently, a study conducted by the University of California, Irvine in June 2022 focused on indirect, direct, and media-based exposure to hurricanes Irma and Michael, which hit the United States in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
It identified symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTSD), depression, and anxiety in the study population, reinforcing the link between natural disasters and adverse psychological issues. This added to the body of evidence about the impact of climatic events on mental health.
The climate-induced mental health issues, studies indicate, are only going to deepen going forward. What is more, the fallout is going to be by and large random across the world, be it Bangladesh or United States.
According to a 2022 Washington Post analysis, 40 percent of Americans now live in a county recently affected by severe weather, in the form of fire, flood, hurricane, landslide or other natural disaster.
Developed countries, because of their wealth, are better able to deal with their crises. But this hardly detracts from the scale of the climate challenge faced by them and the world as a whole. Combating it is not only about saving mother earth but also about ensuring that the world doesn’t become a depressed place for coming generations.