Psychologists Warn of Climate Change "Ecoanxiety"

The study suggests that the solution to the problem of 'ecoanxiety' is teaching people about the impacts of climate change in their own communities and helping them to learn about how they can prepare for the inevitable disasters. The study is fairly transparent about the end goal of diagnosing the psychological impact of climate change. "Thus, helping people understand climate’s impacts on human well-being, as this report aims to do, could be one way to increase people's willingness to take action in response to climate change," they say.

The researchers acknowledges that the media sometimes has a role in elevating anxiety about climate change. "The extent to which individuals recognize climate effects, or label them as part of climate change, is partially influenced by media representations and the people around them. Whether or not people attribute certain impacts to climate change will in turn influence the way in which they experience certain psychological effects. For example, anxiety about climate change and its possible future impacts is likely to occur only when people identify climate change as responsible for particular trends and events." They said members of the media should be careful not to associate every weather event with climate change, lest they cause unnecessary anxiety.

However, they do recommend talking about climate change more and about the feelings associated with it as a way to empower individuals. "Naming fears and other emotions and showing empathy for them can help dismantle paralyzing defense mechanisms." The researchers said that talking about being  anxious, depressed, or otherwise emotional is a normal response, "not something to fight against, ignore, downplay, or suppress." Discussing these feelings can help individuals process potentially overwhelming information, according to the study's authors.