scorecardresearch

TRENDING TOPICS

What is eco-anxiety? The psychological condition triggered by climate crisis

The psychological impact of climate change on some people is known as eco-anxiety, also called climate anxiety. Though it isn't a diagnosable condition yet.

Advertisement
The psychological impact of climate change on some people is known as eco-anxiety. (Photo courtesy: AP)
The psychological impact of climate change on some people is known as eco-anxiety. (Photo courtesy: AP)

In Short

  • Eco-anxiety is a chronic fear of environmental cataclysm that comes from observing the impact of climate change
  • Climate anxiety is not a diagnosable condition yet
  • Research has found that going for walks in nature may be beneficial

By Daphne Clarance: Climate change has been a serious cause of concern for years now. Besides creating an environmental impact that threatens the future of the Earth, it has affected people psychologically as well.

At a time when activists are striving for influential programs to be implemented by world leaders, the overwhelming connection of climate change to our emotions has become visible. This phenomenon of fear of environmental damage or ecological disaster is called eco-anxiety.

advertisement

WHAT IS ECO-ANXIETY?

The psychological impact of climate change on some people is known as eco-anxiety, also called climate anxiety. Though it is not considered a disease, there is a heightened concern for people who are experiencing psychological disorders.

According to the American Psychology Association (APA), "The chronic fear of environmental cataclysm that comes from observing the seemingly irrevocable impact of climate change and the associated concern for one's future and that of next generations is called eco-anxiety."

Anxiety around environmental issues, sometimes, could stem from an awareness of a rising risk of extreme weather events, loss of livelihood or housing, fears for future generations and feelings of helplessness, as per Medical News Today.

Anxiety around environmental issues, sometimes, could stem from an awareness of a rising risk of extreme weather events. (Photo courtesy: AP)
Anxiety around environmental issues, sometimes, could stem from an awareness of a rising risk of extreme weather events. (Photo courtesy: AP)

IS ECO-ANXIETY A MENTAL ILLNESS?

Eco-anxiety is currently not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This means that doctors do not officially consider it a diagnosable condition.

Mental health experts, however, consider it rational and use this term within the field of ecopsychology, which is a brand that deals with people's psychological relationships with the rest of nature and how this impacts their identity, well-being and health.

A study published in Lancet Planetary Health, led by academics and professionals at the University of Bath, Stanford Medicine Centre for Innovation in Global Health, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and others, found that people from countries more directly and immediately impacted by climate change tend to be more worried about their future. The research was done on 10,000 young people, aged 16-25, across 10 countries.

Ninety-two per cent of young people in the Philippines said they felt like the future was frightening, compared to just 56 per cent in Finland, and 75 per cent said they believed the future was frightening.

Ninety-two per cent of young people in the Philippines said they felt like the future was frightening, as per a study. (Photo courtesy: AFP)
Ninety-two per cent of young people in the Philippines said they felt like the future was frightening, as per a study. (Photo courtesy: AFP)

advertisement

HOW TO DEAL WITH ECO-ANXIETY?

Some research has found that going for walks in nature (without technology) may be beneficial for people who have eco-anxiety or climate anxiety. Hobbies like gardening, planting trees and other similar activities could foster a sense of connectedness with the natural world. Meditating in nature could also be helpful.

Sacha Wright, a Research and Curriculum Coordinator at Force of Nature told Natural History Museum, said that one must always share their worries and not internalise the anxiety.

"I often worry that if I bring up my eco-anxiety around my peers, I will be the 'downer' but sharing your fears, concerns and hopes is a powerful way to break down the shame and stigma around engagement in environmentalism," she said.