Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Climate change responsible for depression, anxiety

Climate change responsible for depression, anxiety

Half of all mental disorders begin at the adolescent age - before the age of 14 - but most cases go undetected and untreated, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

The study also found that a 1-degree Celsius increase over 5 years - or a 1.8-degree Fahrenheit increase - causes a 2 percent increase in mental health problems.

Between 2002 and 2012, almost 2 million participants were asked this question: "Now thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression, and problems with emotions, for how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?"

Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, one study led by Stanford University economist Marshall Burke found that a 1.8-degree Fahrenheit increase in monthly average temperature causes a 0.7 percent increase in suicide rates in the US and 2.1 percent increase in Mexico. "There are many other place-specific factors that may moderate the effect".

On the heels of a United Nations report that warned we have until 2030 to stop climate change from raising temperatures above a key threshold, another study found that the increasing heat could also lead to a decline to mental health.

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A team of researchers led by Nick Obradovich of MIT Media Lab found that short-term exposure to extreme weather conditions and tropical cyclones, as well as the multiyear warming around the world, is associated for worsened mental health in Americans. One signified there had been mental health difficulties over the 30 days.

"Ultimately, if observed relationships from the recent past persist, added climate change may amplify the society-wide mental health burden", the study authors wrote Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "In that world, the effect between hot temperatures and mental-health outcomes might be reduced". When these factors were combined, they calculated that the negative effect of high temperatures on mental health was twice as high for low-income women as it was for high-income men. 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. Patz and his co-authors found that high temperatures impacted admissions for self-harm, including attempted suicide.

Next, the team analysed longer-term warming and mental health reports in individual cities.

He said millions of people are caught up in conflict and disasters, putting them at risk of a range of long-term mental health problems.

The CDC surveys used in this study did not provide the kind of detail researchers would need to explain exactly how climate change translates into worse mental health.

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