A one-degree rise in temperatures increases the risk of depression and anxiety by 24%
Climate change was described by a commission from The Lancet and University College London as the greatest potential global threat to health in the 21st century, with expected negative effects on mental health in addition to consequences on physical health.
Climate change can directly influence mental health outcomes by affecting the lives of people who experience intense heat and extreme weather events, such as floods, wildfires, cyclones, and hurricanes.
It also increases the likelihood of prolonged droughts, food insecurity such as habitat loss, flooding, and land salinization due to rising sea levels, deforestation, and forced migration, all of which increase the risk of a variety of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
The study looked at the effect of heat such as humidity and flooding and the concomitant rates of depression and anxiety in Bangladesh, the world’s seventh most vulnerable country to climate change. It is believed that 4.4% of people worldwide have depression. In Bangladesh, this figure is considerably higher, as it rises to 16.3%.
Anxiety levels in the country were also higher (6%) compared to the rest of the world (3.6%). The researchers said the study findings could be used to reduce the broader effect of climate change on mental health.
The study measured climate variables at 43 weather stations in Bangladesh looking for seasonal changes in temperature and humidity, as well as pinpointing where people were exposed to flooding.
These measurements revealed that heat, humidity, and weather-related events had an alarming effect on the mental health of the respondents.
People who experienced temperatures one degree Celsius higher were found to be 21% more likely to have an anxiety disorder. They were also 24% more likely to have depression and anxiety together.
The research also found a link between increased humidity in the air and a greater likelihood that participants would report depression and anxiety.