What is climate anxiety? Yahoo News Explains

As the climate crisis continues to worsen, new evidence suggests that the anxiety triggered by it is beginning to have a marked impact on the daily lives of a majority of young people around the globe. Yahoo News explains what “climate anxiety” is — and some ways you can deal with it.

Video Transcript

GARIN FLOWERS: There are plenty of things going on in the world causing people stress and anxiety, like the COVID-19 pandemic, and the outbreak of war in Europe and in Africa. But now, some research suggests there's an issue causing anxiety that's not going away anytime soon-- climate change.

- Turn now to a growing mental health concern that's tied to climate change.

- There's a real problem now with mental health and climate anxiety.

- Climate anxiety.

- Climate anxiety.

GARIN FLOWERS: A recent international study concluded that a majority of young people are experiencing high levels of psychological distress from climate change and governmental inaction on the growing crisis.

THOMAS J. DOHERTY: A simple way of thinking about climate anxiety is, what aspect of anxiety, in the normal sense for us, is evoked by climate change? Anxiety is a natural emotion that all humans have, right, which is basically an apprehension about some future threat. It's a very useful emotion to have. It's how we survive.

It could be anxiety about someone's personal well-being or their family. It could be anxiety about things happening around the world. So it's essentially a meeting of two things-- our natural tendency to be anxious about threats that we don't quite know about, and this huge thing, this hyper object of climate change.

GARIN FLOWERS: It's not just feelings about the future. We are already experiencing and seeing an increase in extreme weather events caused by climate change and other effects leading to uncertainty. The countries with the highest proportion of young people who felt very worried or extremely worried by climate change were those in the Philippines, 84%, India, 68%, and not far behind, Brazil with 67%. Nations all that have been hit hard by effects of climate change, such as extreme heat waves, powerful hurricanes, heavy rain, and floods.

So what are some of the ways to cope with climate anxiety? Well, there's climate aware therapy-- talking to a therapist specializing in this topic. Seek out others-- find stories and people who are dealing with the same kind of anxiety so as not to feel alone. Also, give yourself room to feel the grief, feel the feelings, and then find a way to reset and calm the nervous system. And finally, don't be afraid to get involved with helping fix the problem, because it's your world.