What is ecoanxiety

what is ecoanxiety

The reality of climate change poses a significant threat to the future of our planet. This situation can have psychological effects on certain people, giving rise to a condition called ecoanxiety. Many people wonder what is ecoanxiety.

Therefore, in this article we are going to teach you what ecoanxiety is, its underlying causes, the symptoms it manifests and the steps we can take to prevent it and at the same time protect the environment.

What is ecoanxiety

protect the planet

Ecoanxiety, a relatively new term but one that has quickly gained recognition among psychologists around the world, has become a major concern for people in their daily lives. The increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, attributed to climate change, have led to the rise of eco-anxiety. Devastating events such as the Australian bushfires and the destruction caused by Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, have unknowingly inflicted ecoanxiety on many people.

Ecoanxiety, a term used to describe a specific type of anxiety, is a phenomenon that has gained attention in recent years. It is characterized by deep concern and anguish about the state of the environment and the possible consequences of climate change. The causes of ecoanxiety are multifaceted and can vary from person to person.

A common cause is the overwhelming amount of information and media coverage around environmental issues, which can contribute to feelings of helplessness and despair. Additionally, the tangible impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events and biodiversity loss, can also contribute to ecoanxiety. The sense of urgency to address these issues and the fear of an uncertain future can further exacerbate this anxiety. It's important pointing that Ecoanxiety is not a clinical diagnosis, but a response to the current environmental crisis.

While ecoanxiety is not currently classified as a medical condition, it is important to recognize that the heightened apprehension surrounding the climate crisis can potentially contribute to the development of psychological disorders. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines ecoanxiety as a persistent feeling of fear of environmental devastation, which It arises from witnessing the seemingly irreversible effects of climate change and the accompanying concerns for the future of oneself and future generations.

Accordingly, APA recognizes that people who internalize the profound environmental challenges facing our planet may experience varying degrees of psychological repercussions.

Environmental problems related to climate change

there is no planet B

So what exactly are the important environmental issues related to climate change? We are referring to the rapid increase in the occurrence of severe weather events (such as heat waves, fires, cyclones, typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis), the escalation of pollution and its harmful effects on health, the accumulation of waste in our oceans, the decrease in biodiversity, pressure on water resources and water scarcity, overexploitation of natural resources and destruction of forests, and the alarming rise in sea levels, among several other concerns.

While specific data on the exact number of people affected by this new ailment is lacking, specialists predict that as climate-related problems continue to increase, the prevalence of eco-anxiety will inevitably increase. In fact, a groundbreaking report published by the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2017, titled “Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance,” already warned of growing apprehension among citizens.

Impact of ecoanxiety on people

eco-anxiety

The impact of ecoanxiety is not uniform across all individuals. It tends to have a stronger resonance among those who have a greater awareness of the importance of environmental preservation. Symptoms associated withEcoanxiety includes mild anxiety, stress, sleep disorders and nervousness, among others.. In severe cases, ecoanxiety can cause a feeling of suffocation or even lead to depression. Within this particular group, it is common for individuals to experience a deep sense of guilt for the state of the planet, which can be further intensified when contemplating the future of their children, if they have any.

Although a relatively new concept, ecoanxiety is closely related to solastalgia, a term that the Lancet magazine recognized in 2015 as being associated with the effects of climate change on human well-being. Solastalgia, which is not classified as a disease, was coined by Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht and refers to the variety of psychological disorders experienced by indigenous communities after a harmful situation and disturbance of their lands, whether caused by human actions or climate-related factors.

Ecoanxiety, which encompasses solastalgia, specifically affects people who have already suffered the repercussions of a natural calamity. This distinction highlights the nuanced aspect of this phenomenon. A study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on survivors of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 revealed that those who had suffered a natural disaster were 4% more likely to develop a mental disorder, in addition to suffering post-traumatic stress and depression.

Some solutions

To alleviate the impacts of ecoanxiety, like other anxiety disorders, it is essential to adopt strategies that focus on finding positivity in any situation, managing emotional responses, cultivating resilience in the face of challenges, and more. Furthermore, to alleviate the feeling of guilt, it is important to actively contribute to the preserving the environment and advocating for sustainable practices in our own lives and within our communities. Here are some suggestions for treating ecoanxiety:

  • Education plays a crucial role in understanding the adversary, particularly when it comes to combating climate change. It is imperative to equip yourself and others with knowledge on this topic.
  • By committing to responsible consumption and recycling, we can effectively protect the environment while minimizing our use of plastics.
  • Engaging in sustainable practices such as establishing an urban garden or participating in plogging, which involves running and collecting discarded plastics, can contribute positively to the environment.
  • Commit to both sustainable transportation and sustainable food choices. By doing so, you will not only benefit your own health, but you will also contribute to the well-being of the planet.
  • Even the smallest details matter, so it's important to refrain from actions that contribute to pollution, such as leaving the faucet running or throwing gum on the floor.

An encouraging development in the battle against ecological anxiety is the growing understanding among a significant portion of the population of the urgency of environmental management. A recent study by WGSN, a global trends company, revealed that 90% of respondents worldwide expressed unease about their future as they contemplate the climate crisis. This sentiment, particularly prevalent among younger generations, has translated into a wave of green activism exemplified by influential figures such as Greta Thunberg. Instill hope for a better future for our planet.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about what ecoanxiety is and how it affects people.


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