Climate Change Is Bad for Our Mental Health

Climate Change Is Bad for Our Mental Health

Climate Change Is Bad for Our Mental Health

For this study, researchers examined the mental health records of 2 million randomly selected U.S. 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. One signified there had been mental health difficulties over the 30 days.

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.

Researchers say they noticed an increase of "problems with emotions" during 30-day periods that had temperatures averaging over 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

The study's lead author, Nick Obradovich, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, told CNN it's not totally clear why increasing temperatures result in increasing mental-health issues, but the data is clear. "In that world, the effect between hot temperatures and mental-health outcomes might be reduced".

The researchers examined the data gleaned from the questions and paired it up with climate data that was local to each respondent.

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The study outlines three separate ways that hotter and more extreme weather stand to undermine the mental well-being of the people forced to experience it. "We had this nice decade's worth of information about how environmental conditions related to the way people reported their mental health status", Obradovich said.

Mental health problems of people affected by the hurricane Katrina were compared with those who were unaffected.

"Our paper - when coupled with evidence that climate change may impact everyday human moods to severe outcomes like suicide - provides further evidence that exposure to heat, on average, worsens mental health outcomes", Obradovich said, according to Inverse.

Patz, who was not involved in the new research, said the strength of the study includes the high number of participants but noted that the data are "based on a single question about one's mental health and only at the monthly level". The effects will be most pronounced for women and for low-income Americans, the findings indicate. Their result: The occurrence of mental health problems was 4 percentage points higher among those who were hit by the hurricane than among those who weren't.

He also said the study may underestimate the negative effects linked to changing climate, and there might be "stress and despair" occurring "as governments and industry fail to react at the pace recommended by multiple scientific assessments".

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