Climate Change and Mental Health

The Problem

Climate change is a growing cause of worry for many, causing increased anxiety and depression. For those that are directly impacted (for example, those subject to wildfires, extreme storms, etc., that are intensified by climate change), there are increased rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Climate anxiety

Increased ED admissions for patients with mental illness and suicides

  • Increased mental-health related admissions and ED visits have been observed at higher temperatures

    • ​A 10°F (5.6°C) increase in same-day mean apparent temperature was associated with a 4.8% increase in the risk of emergency room visits for mental health disorders, 5.8% increase in self-injury/suicide, and 7.9% increase in intentional injury/homicide.

  • Trends show an increased risk of suicide of 0.7% for each 1°C increase in temperature in the US.

Cognitive health

  • As discussed further in the air pollution section of this site, neurotoxic effects of pollution are linked to impaired memory, accelerated dementia, brain atrophy, and higher rates of other neurodegenerative processes in adults.

  • Pollution has additionally been linked to development of ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.