World Mental Health Day 2018: Global Warming and Climate Change Have Been Causing Depression, Anxiety and Suicidal Behaviour
Global warming (Photo Credits: Max Pixel, oNline Web Fonts)

India is struggling with October heat just months after a spate of cool monsoons. Recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also revealed that there would be a spike in the number of heatwave incidents in the Indian subcontinent. The United Nations’ Special Report on Global Warming says that the world has heated up by 1 degree C. If nothing is done to correct it, the resultant climate change may result in natural calamities and an increase in vector-borne diseases. New research from the MIT and Harvard states that with every degree (Celsius) increase in the global temperature, there’s a two percent increase in mental health issues. Among the most under-recognised casualties of global warming is the impact it has on a person’s mental wellness. World Mental Health Day 2018 is celebrated on October 10 every year. Let’s understand the impact of global warming on the mind.

Rising temperatures could increase the incidence of mental illnesses worldwide. The study collates a decade’s worth of information to come to the conclusion. Blame it on our unique mental makeup, but we are quite sensitive to ambient temperatures, making us more aggressive, suicidal and depressed. 13 Subtle Signs of Suicidal Behaviour According to a Psychiatrist.

Some mental health consequences of climate change may be indirect. Global warming will spur an increase in natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, bush-fires, etc., which can increase stress-related psychiatric disorders. Recent episodes like flash floods and Nipah virus fever – both consequences of climate change – can cause mental health issues. In the wake of climate change-related disasters, people are most likely to experience PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety spectrum disorders, transient psychosis, etc. Personal and financial losses caused by these disasters can also trigger bereavement or depression.

Depression is the second-most commonly studied mental health problem seen in people who have survived natural disasters.  Prolonged depressive episodes can even lead to substance abuse. Indirect effects of climate change can also result in heightened distress, social isolation, negative self-image, etc.

Global warming has an obvious health impact. Physical ailments can increase. Respiratory disorders, cardiovascular problems, kidney issues and gastrointestinal diseases are the common consequences of climate change. Frequent illnesses can bring down the quality of life and deplete economic resources, both of which can increase mental health problems.

Among the most tangible impacts of global warming is increased suicide rates. The number of suicides increases during episodes of heatwaves. Apart from that, hot weather has also been linked to aggression, criminal behaviour, violence, psychological distress and self-harm.

Climate change has become an unavoidable reality, even as corporations and politicians try to downplay its effects. It’s not just the body that suffers as a result of global warming but also the mind. Firstly, the problem – global warming as an agent of mental health problems – should be acknowledged. Improving access to mental health services should be the second step to brace up for the problem.