Warmup could affect your mental health

Modesto Morganelli
Ottobre 11, 2018

For this study, researchers examined the mental health records of 2 million randomly selected United States citizens using data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System between 2002 and 2012, comparing the responses to meteorological and climatic data from the same period.

But that's not all: The study used climate change models to predict that anywhere between 9,000 to 40,000 suicides could be caused by climate change by the year 2050 if nothing is done to stop the rising temperatures. This led research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nick Obradovich, to study the effects of climate change on issues such as depression, anxiety and stress. Exposure to heat, he said, can worsen mental health issues. The team led by Obradovich looked at mental health information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of over 2 million Americans and correlated it with daily meteorological and climatic data changes between 2002 and 2012. One signified there had been mental health difficulties over the 30 days.

"The most important point of this new study is that climate change, indeed, is affecting mental health, and certain populations (women and the poor) are disproportionally impacted", said Dr. Jonathan Patz, a professor, and director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said. Researchers warned that as the earth's temperatures rose, the rain fall also increased due to increased water evaporation. Increases in average monthly temperatures to more than 30 degrees Celsius - 86 degrees Fahrenheit - were associated with a 0.5 percent increase in the probability of mental-health issues, as did months with at least 25 days of precipitation.

In fact, a 1-degree C change - or a 1.8-degree F increase - could cause a 2 percent increase in mental health problems in just five years. Further low-income individuals seemed to be affected more (60 percent more) with climate change than other income groups.

The researchers examined the data gleaned from the questions and paired it up with climate data that was local to each respondent. The researchers also add that like all species humans may also adapt to warmer climates "technologically and physiologically" and so these problems may be solved in the near future.

"While the precise magnitude of these climate-induced adversities is hard to estimate, the theoretical relationship between climate change and mental health risk is compelling", the study author notes.

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