Climate change and related natural disasters can take a toll on mental health, according to a 2017 report by the American Psychological Association. That can include depression and climate anxiety.
As noted in the report by psychology professor Susan Clayton at the College of Wooster and her colleagues, “the ability to process information and make decisions without being disabled by extreme emotional responses is threatened by climate change.”
While it's true that climate change is of alarming importance and can cause a lot of strains in our day to day lives to remain conscious of every choice we make, climate anxiety has taken over us entirely.
But, Caroline Hickman a professor at the University of Bath, insists that climate anxiety or climate depression or climate rage – isn’t a pathology. It’s a reasonable and healthy response to an existential threat. “I’d kind of wonder why somebody wasn’t feeling anxious,” she says.
So recognizing these feelings of anxiety and processing them in a healthy and well-thought manner is what will make a difference. Hickman believes that people with climate anxiety could join an activist group or a discussion and support groups like a climate cafe.
“The primary support that people get is through their doctors and medication and CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy], none of which is particularly appropriate in response to the climate emergency,” she says.
The need for this sort of anxiety is critical for people to make a change and be more conscious about their decisions and more caring towards the environment - sitting in the stagnant feelings of climate anxiety will only make it worse.
Recently, children and students all over the world missed class to march and protest against climate change, the signs that they carried with them were rather morbid - but these kids were acting on their climate anxiety, realizing that making the change required in whatever way possible is more crucial than simply just worrying about it.
Highlighting steps you’ve already taken as a family or as individuals to reduce your carbon footprints and brainstorming new ideas together can help the effect climate anxiety has on you and those around you.
Another simple way of dealing with climate anxiety is to simply take a break from the news and social media in general - constantly reading about how you have no future will only add to the uneasy feeling and drive you up the wall.
The key is to remember that acknowledging climate change is a good thing, overcoming your climate anxiety may be hard but it only indicates that you care about your future and the world. So take a break, and share your feelings about it - you're going to bring some change to the world.