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ABC News: Climate change also has a ‘pronounced’ mental health toll – ‘It’s so terrifying’

Climate change also has a mental health toll
Mental health effects for those dealing with climate change are pronounced.

By Cristina Corujo

“As someone with anxiety, I kind of try not to think too much about the future with regards to climate change, because it’s so terrifying,” Keene, 41, said.

Keene’s life has been bookended by devastating wildfires in increasingly hot and dry California. As a baby she survived the 1980 Panorama Fire in San Bernardino. Most of the houses in her neighborhood were burned, her family’s home was one of the lucky ones that survived.

She has also been through the latest extreme wildfires in East Oakland, where she now lives with her husband and her two children.

“I find it crippling with my anxiety and depression, but mostly with my anxiety,” Keene told ABC News.

Some experts say that the mere discussion of climate change can contribute to that anxiety.

“It’s been described as an existential threat, something that really challenges the way we think about the world. And I think it has the potential to really erode our sense of security,” Clayton added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated climate change “may weigh heavily on mental health in the general population and those already struggling with mental health disorders.”

Other drastic weather patterns like rising temperatures, droughts and natural disasters combined with socio economic stresses could also have a toll on certain people since some communities rely heavily on agriculture, a report published by the CDC says.

According to another report by the American Health Public Association, 25-50% of people exposed to extreme weather disasters are at risk of adverse mental health effects. And more than half of adults and 45% of children suffer depression after a natural disaster, the report said.