What to know about eco-anxiety
Environmental concern refers to the fear of environmental degradation or disaster. This sense of stress is primarily based on current and projected environmental conditions and human-caused climate change.
A 2018 survey found that about 70% of Americans are concerned about climate change and about 51% feel “vulnerable.”
Concerns about environmental issues can arise from awareness of extreme weather conditions, loss of livelihood or habitat, fear of future generations and feelings of helplessness.
This article discusses environmental stress, including what it is, common symptoms, and how to recognize and deal with it.
What is the environmental stress?
The researchers used the term “environmental anxiety” to describe chronic or acute concerns about people’s relationship with the environment.
In 2017, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) defined environmental anxiety as “the persistent fear of harming the environment”.
Environmental anxiety is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), meaning that doctors do not consider it an officially diagnosed disorder.
However, mental health professionals use the term environmental stressors to refer to environmental psychology, the branch of psychology that deals with the mental relationship between people and their environment and how it affects identity, health, and their welfare. is
The direct effects of climate change—such as the destruction of population groups, food shortages, and lack of health care—can be devastating to human health.
Gradual effects of climate change, including sea level rise and climate change, can also cause long-term mental health symptoms.
According to the APA, climate change can impact mental health in several ways, including:
- Shocked and shocked
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) .
- Drug abuse
- Decreased sense of independence and control
- Feelings of helplessness, fear and anxiety
For example, the loss of important sites can affect some people. The loss or disruption of a job or social security can also have a significant impact on mental health.
Too much or too much stress, whatever the cause, can increase the risk of many health problems. These include heart disease, high blood pressure and depression.
Where did it come from?
Exposure to extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes, droughts, and fires, can create environmental concerns for your loved ones.
Media coverage of environmental disasters can be overwhelming, and there is growing evidence of negative human impacts on the environment. Weather conditions have increased clashes and protests, affecting people’s homes and destroying their livelihoods.
There is growing scientific evidence that people are more or less anxious because they feel they have no control over environmental issues, especially climate change.
For some, the mounting environmental problems are not only disturbing, frightening and frightening, but also a source of constant or debilitating anxiety.
People may also feel guilty or concerned about the impact of their behavior or that of their generation on the environment and on future generations.
Who is affected?
Environmental pollution does not affect everyone equally. Therefore, some people may be more concerned with environmental issues.
There are areas of the world that are affected by extreme weather conditions, such as coastal areas and low-lying areas. People whose livelihood depends on the environment, such as working in fishing, tourism, agriculture, etc., are considered equal.
Furthermore, people living in rural areas depend on natural resources and live in the most vulnerable areas. They may fear losing their homes, livelihoods or cultural heritage, which could destroy their identity, belonging and community.
Environmental workers, first responders, and emergency medical workers may also be exposed to environmental problems.
These areas are greatly affected by physical and mental health due to climate and environmental changes.
The following groups may also experience environmental concerns:
- Refugees and forced migrants
- People with pre-existing physical or mental conditions
- People of low economic level.
- children and youth
- older parents
How do I know if I have environmental concerns?
Everyone naturally feels sad, angry, unhappy, and powerless about things that are out of our control, and it’s easy to get discouraged by bad news about the environment.
There is no medical explanation for environmental anxiety. If you are concerned about environmental stressors that are interfering with your daily life, your ability to work, or your ability to care for yourself, talk to a mental health professional.
A growing number of psychologists and other mental health professionals are learning to recognize and appreciate environmental and climate concerns.
How do you deal with it?
Solving environmental problems depends on responsibility for social change, government contributions, and corporate contributions to climate change, but in general people use different ways to manage their responses to environmental problems.
Some tips for managing environmental stress include:
People may find that doing positive activities can reduce feelings of anxiety and helplessness. The psychological benefits of helping others are well established.
Good practices include:
- Communicate with others about good environmental practices.
- Volunteer for an environmental organization.
- Make environmental choices, like recycling, and eating a sustainable diet, like cutting back on meat and dairy.
Mental health professionals can help people identify the issues that bother them the most and create a plan to help them feel in control.
Access to accurate environmental information helps strengthen communities and increases their preparedness and resilience to disasters.
Relying on misinformation and under information can make it difficult to understand and deal with uncertain issues like climate change.
In this way, people can be sure that they are learning about environmental issues using reliable and authentic information.
Try to be optimistic
Having a healthy level of hope helps a person thrive and adjust after experiencing a traumatic event like a natural disaster. You may find that it helps you better control your anxiety.
Positive thoughts help break the cycle of negative thoughts associated with normal or severe anxiety.
Know when to break
The news they see daily in the media, politics, advertisements and social networks affects people without realizing it. Repeating this information can be stressful, especially if it is presented in an inaccurate, biased, or specific manner.
While it can be beneficial for people to learn about environmental issues, being exposed to too much information or misinformation can be overwhelming.
Reassessing environmental information sources, or at least temporarily cutting or suspending information sources, can help reduce stress immediately.
Go to the doctor
More and more mental health professionals are being trained to help people manage their relationship with nature and cope with current environmental challenges.
People with serious environmental problems or concerns that do not respond to home care recommendations need professional help to solve their problems.
To get professional help with environmental issues, a person can talk to their family doctor or other healthcare professional, who can guide them on how to contact an appropriate mental health professional.
The Climate Psychology Alliance offers individual and group support for people affected by environmental issues, as well as training for therapists and counselors, including three free one-on-one sessions by phone or Skype.
Currently, environmental anxiety is not an official medical diagnosis. Alternatively, mental health professionals may describe it as ongoing environmental degradation based on a sense of helplessness in the face of environmental degradation or climate change.
Anxiety can be reduced by using coping strategies or by seeking professional help, especially someone trained in climate psychology.