70% of Americans experiencing climate change anxiety and depression, survey finds

ByLeslie Brinkley KGO logo
Monday, November 8, 2021
70% of Americans experiencing climate change anxiety: Survey
A new survey shows that 70% of Americans are now very or somewhat worried about global warming as more are showing signs of anxiety or depression.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A new survey from Yale shows that 70% of Americans are now very or somewhat worried about global warming as more and more of them show signs of anxiety or depression as a result of that worry.

Noah Oderberg is a psychologist working in Oakland. He says "You may have heard of PTSD- post traumatic stress disorder. A psychiatrist came up with pre-PTSD because it's not a trauma that's already occurred. It's a fear of a future trauma so it's this new idea. And it involves anxiety and depression."

He's seeing more and more people bringing up the subject of global warming in therapy citing feelings of sadness and despair. He says in California the wildfires and smoke are a trigger. The stakes are high.

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Oderberg said "50% said they were planning to have fewer children and one of the reasons stated was their fear around climate change. It's very new and the field of psychology is not prepared for it."

Some therapists are connecting on the website Climate Psychology Alliance. The new field is often dubbed climate anxiety, climate grief or eco-anxiety. Climate-aware psychologists are pushing for new training, new education for clinicians.

Virginia Reinhart is with the Sierra Club. She said "Anxiety and fear is kind of a rational response. We know if we're going to solve this crisis we need to get beyond that and get engaged. And I think engagement is the best antidote."

Others suggest reconnecting with nature in the present by going or even imagining going to the woods or the beach to see the positive in the environment.