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Study: Warming Climate Change Affects Mental Health

Our mood tend to change with the weather at times, and now a new study reveals that an increase in average temperatures monthly might be linked to a slight rise in mental health problems; where a one-degree Celsius jump in average temps over five years could offer enhanced prevalence when it comes to issues around mental health.

However, while the results revealed this connection, the lead author of the study, Nick Obradovich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab noted the team couldn’t connect the ‘why’ factor in it all, stating it could be linked to inadequate sleep during hotter weather.

CNN reported that per climate scientists, and going on temperature records starting in at around 1850, the Earth is approximately one degree Celsius hotter now, versus 1850 to 1900.

When it came to the study, the team gathered data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CD) survey titled Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. This encompasses personal mental health data that is self-reported for about two million U.S. residents, randomly sampled, including figures for daily meteorological numbers from 2002 to 2012.

Respondents surveyed commented on anything mental health-related, including emotional issues, depression, stress, and anxiety; comments centered around less-extreme problems like suicide or hospitalization, but more than just general day-to-day agitation or grumpiness. The team also linked the mental health data to the meteorological figures from the cities that respondents resided in.

The numbers were reviewed in three separate ways. First off, the team analyzed the precipitation and temps over 30 days, and compared this to mental health. According to Obradovich, hotter temperatures and increased rates of precipitation during that time frame equaled out to a rise in chance that these individuals were going to state some mental health issues. More specifically, a change in average temps monthly from 25 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius to averages higher than 30 meant an increase of a 0.5 percentage point when it came to mental health issues.

Step two involved the team reviewing long-term mental health and warming reports in specific cities. It was at this point the study revealed that warming over five years by a mere one degree Celsius was connected to an increase of 2 percentage point, when it came to mental health difficulties.

Lastly, the researchers reviewed reports around mental health from individuals who dealt with Hurricane Katrina, comparing them to those in cities of similar size, but who have not had to deal with this kind of natural disaster. Those who experienced Hurricane Katrina were connected to an increase of 4 percentage point, when it came to mental health problems.

Generally speaking, the report also concluded that those people most at risk for mental health issues when it comes to climate change include individuals with lower incomes, women, and people who already have existing mental health difficulties.

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