Does Climate Change Cause Depression?

Depression, Anxiety, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Are Common Among Flood Victims

In a quest to probe further on the impact of climate change on mental health, a psychologist from Kings College London conducted research that focused on the psychological impact of flooding to people affected by the disaster.

The results are quite astonishing.

According to James Rubin, a psychologist and the main author of the research, a majority of the respondents to the survey who were flood victims in 2013-14 reported high levels of depression and anxiety.

Rubin said, “What you see is a gradient. Among the groups that were flooded, they had the greatest mental health problems.”

Anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder were also reported among flood victims.

Climate change has a huge impact on health. One of its health threats is linked to negative impact on mental health. In fact if extreme weather conditions like floods and storms become more prevalent, people are prone to a lot of mental stress. These, in turn, are known to trigger other societal problems like alcoholism, substance abuse, and depression.

A depressed woman.
A depressed woman.

The Study

The study focused on the impact of flooding on mental health. The researchers sent surveys to more than 8,000 people living in areas affected by floods in 2013-14. One of the goals of the study is to look for signs of conditions such as depression and anxiety.

More than 2,000 people responded and were categorized by their level of exposure whether directly and indirectly.

Here are the results:

The study found that among direct flood victims, 20% had been diagnosed with depression, 28.3% with anxiety and 36% with post-traumatic stress disorder. Among those disrupted (meaning their area was flooded but not their home), the researchers found almost 10% to have depression and 15% with PTSD. Those unaffected showed just 6% depression and 8% PTSD.

Take Note of These Recommendations

With the key results highlighting the negative mental effects of flooding, Rubin stressed for mental health to be made a priority when helping victims of any natural disasters.

Rubin highlighted the importance of adequate mental health services for the victims of floods as well. This should be part of the response effort.

It is also helpful that policymakers and government agencies must identify the risk factors to help protect people from developing any of these conditions in the first place. To cite an example, it is crucial to help people who have been cut off from social support services or offer alternatives to prevent extensive damage to homes.

The worse the damage, the more likely a person is to have a mental health problem,” Rubin said.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.