Scientists have found a link between climate change and depression. There is already proof that climate change is happening across the world and scientists have linked this with a rise in cases of depression. Warmer climate and increased rainfall appear to lead to a surge in cases of depression. Months that show an increase in rainfall to over 25 days of precipitation result in about a two percent rise in reported incidents of depression. Research has also shown that an average rise in monthly temperature to over 30 degrees Celsius results in a 0.5 % increase in reported cases of depression. Researchers have also found a possible link between climate change and an increase in the use of words and language on the internet that may indicate a mental health problem.
Research has also shown that the risk of depression is highest amongst the poorest people on earth. This is likely to be due to the fact that wealthier people can better mitigate the effects of higher temperatures or more rainfall. Wealthier households have more space and better cooling technology so they are unlikely to feel the effects of hotter weather as sharply as poorer people in their cramped dwellings. This indicates that the mental health burden of climate change is and will disproportionately affect poorer households.
Climate change has also been linked to a surge in suicides globally. Suicide remains one of the leading causes of death, particularly in industrialized nations. According to the article “Rising temperatures linked to increased suicide rates” from the guardian, “It found that the rate of suicide rose by 0.7% in the US and by 2.1% in Mexico when the average monthly temperature rose by 1C. Scientists suggest that further climate change may result in even higher rates of suicide in western countries. The rate of suicide is already at epidemic levels in most western countries. The same article from above has also linked about 60,000 suicides in India over the last three decades to the possible effects of climate change.
Traumatic events are a leading cause of mental health diseases. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is caused by experiencing major trauma. Climate change has been linked to a potential increase in incidences of extreme weather events. Some climate scientists have claimed the recent surge in hurricanes, cyclones, and forest fires across America and Europe are due to climate change. Such events are likely to cause significant trauma in individuals and result in PTSD. Climate change is likely to result in a further increment of extreme weather events. Such events result in significant loss of life and property. Individuals who survive are likely to have lost close friends and property resulting in an increase in stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Climate change is also likely to cause a surge in mental health issues due to its effect on human migration. Recent events in Europe suggest that a significant influx of people is likely to increase levels of anxiety and depression in both migrating populations and local populations. Climate change is partly to blame for the recent migrant crisis in Europe. Additional climate change is likely to make parts of the world uninhabitable and force human beings to move. Forced migration into new territories with different cultures has been shown to increase the likelihood of mental health diseases.
Climate change is also likely to result in poorer physical health across the globe. As temperatures rise, disease-carrying bugs are likely to invade new territories. For instance, malaria-carrying mosquitos may enter new territories as temperatures rise. This is likely to result in new diseases for populations that do not possess natural resistance from co-existing with such diseases. Poor physical health has also been linked to poor mental health. People are more likely to be stressed when they fall sick, especially if they fall sick frequently or severely. Malaria causes a severe illness in populations that are not traditionally exposed to it and this is likely to cause a surge in mental health cases.
Clearly, climate change is going to have a significant impact on the mental health of human beings. Poor people and vulnerable members of society are likely to bear the biggest burden. It is still not too late to prevent the effects of climate change from being irreversible. As scientists and the UN have pointed out, human beings have 12 years to save earth from the drastic consequences of climate change. Otherwise, the effects of climate change have the potential to cause devastating consequences to the poorest and most vulnerable people.