No matter where we live, weather touches each of us daily and the warming effects of climate change go beyond the physical environment. Combining the responses with meteorological data, researchers found that an average maximum temperature greater than 30 degrees Celsius can increase the probability of mental health issues by 1 percent. The question basically asks: "How, over the recent period, has your mental health status been?" He looked at self-reported mental health data for over two million U.S. residents between 2002 and 2012 and compared it to the meteorological records.
"We don't exactly know why we see high temperatures or increasing temperatures produce mental health problems", Obradovich told CNN.
For this study, researchers examined the mental health records of 2 million randomly selected USA citizens using data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System between 2002 and 2012, comparing the responses to meteorological and climatic data from the same period.
The researchers also found that being a woman instead of a man was associated with an effect of the same magnitude. "It is time to act on mental health".
Especially significant given the dire United Nations climate change report is the authors' finding that people affected by Hurricane Katrina had a 4 percent higher prevalence of mental-health issues than people in comparably sized communities who had not experienced a natural disaster. In this report, respondents had to answer how many days during the last month they felt that their mental health was not very good, including depression, stress, and emotions.
Previous studies have linked natural disasters to PTSD and acute depression, shown that psychiatric hospital admissions increase during hotter weather, and found that heat and drought raise rates of suicide. "Months with more than 25 days of rain increased the chances of mental health problems by 2%, while temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius led to a 0.5% increase", added Obradovich.
Finally, the team examined mental health reports from people affected by Hurricane Katrina and compared them to reports from people in comparable-sized places that had not been affected by the catastrophic hurricane. Their result: The occurrence of mental health problems was 4 percentage points higher among those who were hit by the hurricane than among those who weren't.
Some people were more vulnerable than others, the researchers found. "In that world, the effect between hot temperatures and mental-health outcomes might be reduced". Obradovich, who noted that some people near the coast may be feeling anxiety about the possibility of hurricane damage to their homes, agreed: "There could be additional effects of worry about climate change that we're not able to capture in this study".
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