Do Severe Climatic Changes Depress People?

By Prapoorna M

Last Updated: November 27, 2021

Since childhood, we are habituated to observe the climate in the region we live and the seasonal changes that occur in nature according to their time. We like to find those mirages that are formed due to scorching summer heat, the muddy pools on sidewalks brought by the rainy days, and those snowflakes and chilly air welcoming the winter nights.

The colorful fall season to the beautiful blossoming spring season, the beach-side sunny summers to the holidays that come during the Christmas season, we have fond memories with each and every season. But in the recent years, the Earth’s climatic conditions have been changing drastically and rapidly that these dire changes are ringing alarms of high alert all over the world.

The changes of nature that occur quite early than their original occurrence time are raising numerous questions in our minds. Also the increasing number and potential of natural disasters, like the earthquakes, tsunamis, forest fires, floods, and draughts are making us tense, repeating the care that the environment needs, as immediately and as intensely as possible. As per the recent U.N. reports, the severe climatic changes such as draughts due to food shortages, flooding due to rise in sea levels and more frequent and severe natural disasters are likely to occur as soon as 2040.

Thick clouds and lightning strike
Thick clouds and lightning strike

Under these circumstances, it is natural to experience the severe climatic conditions by every one of us and also to feel the intensity of it. This naturally increases some anxiety and tension in us, realizing how unsafe our future generations would be. Along with them, we are also likely to experience some mental health issues due to these extreme changes in our climates of different parts of the world.

Seasons – Moods

It is well-known that seasons affect our moods. The disorder named as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) specifies how various seasons affect our emotional well-being. SAD is recognized as a depressive disorder that can trigger the same symptoms as non-seasonal depression. The most common symptoms of monsoon depression include fatigue, loss of interest in hobbies, overeating, increased irritability, and social withdrawal. In addition, some people also start to experience food cravings, typically drawn towards high sugar and refined carbohydrates, etc. while everything classified as comfort food.

While most of the SAD cases are caused during rainy seasons, summers also show their affect. Most people experience different types of anxieties during the summer season. That growing heat makes some people more anxious than during the normal days. Though it is a common experience for people to undergo these changes and depressions in different seasons, the fast-changing climatic conditions of today’s world are showing a greater impact on the mental health of world’s population.

Affect of Climate on Mental Health

Climate changes causes extreme heat events, intense floods, storms, lightning, coastal erosion etc. that disrupt societal and economic structures. It directly affects the quality of soil, the food production, freshwater supplies, and the loss of livelihoods for many. The dooming negative impact on physical environment could exacerbate poverty, malnutrition and disease. This climate change could also exacerbate pre-existing psychological vulnerabilities.

The American Psychological Association has issued a report on climate change’s effect on mental health stating that gradual, long-term changes in climate can also surface a number of different emotions, including fear, anger, feelings of powerlessness, or exhaustion.

In a recent study, it was found that the exposure to climate and weather related natural disasters lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can lead to chronic psychological dysfunction. Some people are at higher risk for mental health disorders. Among them children, pregnant women and postpartum women, people who are economically backward, who already have mental illness and who are homeless are prone to such disorders.

In the countries with large land masses climatic conditions vary across provinces and regions. Studies suggest that fluctuations in climate affect both the onset and severity of depression at a population level. The increasing global temperatures could affect an individual’s cognitive ability and productivity. Experts say, “Climate change is a threat to the world and the psychological implications of it are occurring here and now.”

We should anyways try to adapt technologically, psychologically, and physiologically to the climatic changes. Facing the stressors due to the climatic conditions could help us develop better mental ability and developments in mental health care.

A dull man in a dull weather
A dull man in a dull weather

Help Yourself

To overcome the effects of mood disorders, help yourself with some activities like meeting old friends, sharing your problems with loved ones and close friends who would support you. Take the help of a mental health expert when you are unable to come out of it. To have an idea on what all you can do, just go through the following list of things.

  • Meet Your Friends: Chitchatting with friends, playing fun games or board games, dancing, or watching movies etc. can help to elevate your mood.
  • Take a walk: Go for a long slow-paced walk in a park or a garden where you won’t feel gloomy.
  • Get Ready: Your mood lights up when you wear bright colored clothes and get well-dressed up in a different way than your regular type.
  • Physical Activity: Dance, Aerobics or simple exercises can help you to lift your mood.
  • Pamper Yourself: Give yourself a nice treatment with a body massage in a spa or have your favorite comfort food.
  • Meditation: Meditation and mindfulness help body to relax. Even brief amounts of them show good results by releasing emotions that cause physical stress to the body.

Though these are simple techniques to come out of that gloomy mood, and relieve stress in the body, the impending climatic changes affect our psychological well-being that might lead to Anxiety disorders, Stress, PTSD etc. Recent rise in mental health issues is a standing example of this phenomenon. Seeking the help of Psychologists to deal with psychological vulnerabilities both of you and your loved ones is a great step in helping yourself get well. Our team of Psychological experts is here to offer you help at any time. Book an appointment to have a talk with an expert either online or offline.

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