Climate change has created a new kind of mental disorder

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Climate change may be melting the ice caps, but our fear of environmental armageddon has manifested into legitimate mess.

At the recent Climate Action Summit (the one to which we were not invited), UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma noted that we are still far from the targets set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. .

Sharma said: “will ask: have we done enough to put the world on track to limit warming to 1.5 ° C and protect people and nature from the effects of climate change? We have to be honest with ourselves – the answer to that question right now is no. “

Sharma noted: “The choices we make in the coming year will determine whether we unleash a tidal wave of climate catastrophe for generations to come. “

Obviously, we weren’t invited, due to our ignorance of the United Nations, and perhaps indirectly, because we are increasingly a nation of climate deniers. Yet we have enabled an environmental apocalypse, one that will surely see the seas rise, boil and wash all over our shit is a terror we are not prepared to face, both literally and mentally.

Psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren coined the term “pre-traumatic stress disorder” to describe the pervasive fear felt by many scientists, advocates and journalists. In the years to come, she said, the problem will only grow.

Van Susteren is the co-author of a 2012 report on the psychological risks of the carbon crisis. As other studies on climate change and mental health, report warns of anxiety, depression, violence, suicide and drug addiction in the face of increasingly perilous storms, heatwaves, floods and droughts .

As the authors noted, “The American mental health community, counselors, trauma specialists and first responders are not even prepared to face the scale and intensity of the impacts that will result from more difficult conditions and disasters that global warming will trigger.

In response to our climate of growing anxiety, a handful of psychotherapists are pioneering a new area of ​​treatment called “ecopsychology”. Doctors go green with boredom, urging their patients to come to terms with their own helplessness and take as many breaks from society as possible.

There seems to be a conflict and a sense of the difference between the death that will inevitably come to all of us, and the same death that we have somehow allowed. This is especially the case following a natural disaster, when Hurricane Maria triggered a mental health crisis in Puerto Rico, with numerous cases of PTSD. In fact, after many years of decline, the suicide rate sharp in the months that followed Maria.

People were rocked by the catastrophic storm, but grew increasingly fearful for the future, often to the point of mental paralysis.

As Claire Harris noted for The big smoke, “Climate anxiety is a growing phenomenon, especially among young people, and therapists are not equipped to deal with it. I have always had a tendency to think catastrophic, but in this case the catastrophe is real. My therapist’s approach to anxiety (as with most therapists) is to help me accept things as they are, instead of letting them stress me out. The problem is, it can’t be applied to the climate emergency. It’s like telling me to put global warming on a sheet and float it along the river.

Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies at the College of Wooster, Ohio, Susan Clayton, co-authored a 2017 report titled Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance. She said: “We can say that a significant proportion of people feel stress and worry about the potential impacts of climate change and that the level of worry is almost certainly increasing. “


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