Climate Change and Your Mental Health

Climate Change and Your Mental Health

Climate change is not only causing a substantial impact to the planet’s health; there is also believed to be a significant impact to our mental health. History has shown us that natural disasters have harmful effects on health and mental health. Rising temperatures, heat waves, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, fires, loss of forests and glaciers, have been shown to directly and indirectly impact physical and mental health.

In an alarming new report from the American Psychological Association (APA) has found links between climate mental health concerns including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Let’s dig a little bit deeper by reviewing the most recent report by the APA on the interface between Psychology and global climate change.


Eco-anxiety, a term that describes “a chronic fear of environmental doom” has recently been defined as a significant mental health concern. This term has been recognized by the APA. In fact, recent survey data suggests that 75% of teens and young adults report worry about the future due to climate change.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Climate change has caused extreme weather events such as devastating hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. Over the last several decades, researches have studied the mental health impact on survivors and they have found that PTSD is one of the top reported outcomes. To complicate this further, evidence based treatments for survivors may be limited in communities that are overwhelmed with patients who have all experienced the same trauma.


The APA report also reveals that there are greater use of emergency mental health services for depression with increases in mean temperature. This is due to the impact that high temperatures have on a person’s ability to regulate not only their body temperature but also their mood. We might be able to relate to this ourselves; we tend to be more irritable on a particularly hot Summer day.

Psychologists who have developed an expertise in this area agree that we need to pay attention to what climate change is doing to our mental health. They also say that the good news is that there are ways that we can mitigate this distress and find ways to cope. Strengthening resilience, fostering optimism, practicing active coping and self-regulation skills are among some of the strategies that Psychologists suggest. Additionally, active coping can include making environmentally conscious lifestyle choices that help us take control of our personal responsibility towards the climate crisis.