What is climate anxiety and why is it trending?

    In this article, we're going to talk about something called "climate anxiety." It's a feeling that many people are having these days because of worries about the environment. We'll explain what exactly climate anxiety is, why it's getting a lot of attention, and who is feeling it the most. We will also share some practical ways to cope with feelings of climate anxiety.

    Climate anxiety

    What is climate anxiety?

    Climate anxiety, as defined by the Handbook of Climate Psychology, is a heightened emotional, mental, or distress triggered by alarming changes in the climate system. It's more than just feeling worried about the environment; it can lead to symptoms like panic attacks, loss of appetite, irritability, weakness, and sleeplessness. The handbook also mentions that ignoring the problem is not the best way to deal with anxiety. It is healthier to acknowledge and try to understand it (Dodds, 2021)

    Is climate anxiety an increasing concern for people?

    According to data gathered by Google and shared exclusively with the BBC, online search queries related to "climate anxiety" have risen. As the effects of climate change unfold, more and more people are experiencing emotional and mental distress. The awareness of environmental issues, coupled with the increasing frequency and severity of climate-related events, contributes to a growing sense of unease and concern among the general population. 

    Are women more affected by climate anxiety than men?

    Yes, there is evidence to suggest that women may be more affected by climate anxiety than men. Various studies have indicated gender differences in environmental concern and anxiety about climate change (Clayton et al, 2023). It's essential to recognise that the effects of climate anxiety can vary among individuals and can be influenced by factors such as personal experiences, cultural backgrounds, and individual coping mechanisms. 

    Does climate anxiety affect children?

    Yes, children are increasingly affected by climate anxiety. Recent research conducted for Save the Children in the UK indicates that 70% of children are worried about the world they will inherit. This concern is not isolated but rather is part of a broader call for action, with 75% of surveyed children expressing a desire for stronger government initiatives addressing the climate and inequality crisis. 60% of these children believe that climate change and inequality are impacting the mental health of their generation in the UK.

    Does climate anxiety affect older people?

    Yes, climate anxiety does affect older people, although, it should be noted that older people are affected in different ways than younger people. According to a 2022 survey from the Office of National Statistics in the UK, 62% of individuals aged 16 and above express concerns that rising temperatures will directly impact them by 2030. The breakdown by age reveals that 70% of 16 to 29-year-olds, 59% of 50 to 69-year-olds, and 57% of those aged 70 or older share these worries. Whilst climate anxiety appears to be less prevalent in the older generations, these individuals who are experiencing it may be more inclined to worry about the well-being of future generations, such as their children or grandchildren.

    How can you cope with climate anxiety?

    Coping with climate anxiety involves adopting strategies to manage the emotional and mental distress associated with concerns about the environment. Here are some tips you can follow to help with your climate anxiety:

    • Limit News Consumptions

    Stay informed, but consider limiting the time spent on news about climate issues. Constant exposure to distressing information can contribute to anxiety.

    • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

    CBT can be effective in addressing the negative thought patterns associated with climate anxiety. It helps in reframing thoughts and developing coping mechanisms.

    • Join Advocacy and Campaigning Groups

    Channel your concerns into action by joining advocacy and campaigning groups. Being part of a community working towards positive change can empower and provide a sense of purpose.

    • Join Local Efforts

    Participate in local initiatives focused on environmental sustainability. Taking action in your community can create a positive impact and reduce feelings of helplessness.

    It’s essential to find coping mechanisms that work for you personally. Whether it's engaging with like-minded individuals, seeking professional support, or making lifestyle adjustments, addressing climate anxiety involves a combination of individual and collective efforts.

    The University of Bristol have created a helpful video where Dr Dan O'Hare, educational psychologist and senior lecturer at the University of Bristol, explores how to cope with climate anxiety, which you can watch below:

    Should I speak to my doctor about climate anxiety?

    Yes, discussing climate anxiety with your doctor is a valid and beneficial step. Mental health is an integral part of overall well-being, and if climate anxiety is affecting your daily life, it's important to seek professional support. Your doctor can provide guidance on managing anxiety, suggest coping strategies, and, if necessary, refer you to mental health specialists. In some cases, medication is an approach to managing anxiety. 

    Which medications are used to treat anxiety?

    The choice of medication for anxiety is determined by various factors, including the type and severity of anxiety, individual health considerations, and potential side effects. Some well-known anxiety medications that you can purchase from EU Meds include:

    Xanax belongs to the benzodiazepine class of medications. It works by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which has a calming effect on the central nervous system. Xanax is often prescribed for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms.

    Propranolol is a beta-blocker used to alleviate physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat and trembling. It works by blocking the effects of adrenaline, reducing the physical symptoms associated with anxiety.

    Propranolol SR is an extended-release form of propranolol. It's designed to provide a more gradual release of the medication over time, allowing for longer-lasting effects.

    What mental health support is available in the UK?

    If you are in the United Kingdom and are in need of support with your mental health due to climate anxiety or any other factor, there are a number of charities and groups that you can contact to receive such support. Here are a few mental health organisations that you may wish to utilise:

    • NHS Mental Health Services - The NHS provides urgent help for mental health issues. Their services are comprehensive and readily accessible for those in need.

    • Mental Health Foundation - A reputable organisation dedicated to promoting mental well-being, the Mental Health Foundation offers valuable resources and support to those seeking help.

    • Mind - Mind is a prominent mental health charity providing a range of support services. They offer guidance on where to start when dealing with mental health problems.

    • Young Minds - Focused on the mental health of young people, Young Minds provides crucial support and resources for adolescents facing mental health challenges.

    • Rethink Mental Illness - Rethink offers an advice and information service, ensuring individuals receive the help they need promptly.

    • Samaritans - A well-known helpline, Samaritans provide a listening ear and emotional support to those in distress, playing a vital role in mental health crisis intervention.

    • Mental Health UK - Committed to improving the lives of those affected by mental health issues, Mental Health UK provides valuable assistance and resources.


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