Study examines how climate change is stressing us out

Health Problems, Global Warming Linked, Per Study

Researchers warned that as the earth's temperatures rose, the rain fall also increased due to increased water evaporation.

"We find that experience with hotter temperatures and added precipitation each worsen mental health, that multiyear warming associates with an increased prevalence of mental health issues, and that exposure to tropical cyclones, likely to increase in frequency and intensity in the future, is linked to worsened mental health", the study's authors wrote.

While all three factors were significantly associated with worse mental health, there was a clear hierarchy among them - hurricanes were the worst, followed by long-term warming and short-term temperature changes. "We have a lot of work to do to figure out precisely what is causing what".

About 2 million people from 263 cities across the country took part in a national survey called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System ran by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers examined the data gleaned from the questions and paired it up with climate data that was local to each respondent. "Yet for too long, mental health has been mostly an afterthought, despite its overwhelming impacts on communities and young people, everywhere".

And another study - looking at 17 years of data from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on heat waves and hospital admissions - also found an increase of people coming to the hospital for "self-harm" during warmer times of the year. "We had this nice decade's worth of information about how environmental conditions related to the way people reported their mental health status", Obradovich said.

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First, they looked at temperatures and precipitation over a 30-day period and compared that to mental health.

The team also found that the monthly effects of temperature on mental health problems were far more for women than for men (60 percent more than males).

"We don't exactly know why we see high temperatures or increasing temperatures produce mental health problems", Obradovich told CNN. "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.

Tarun Dua, mental health expert at WHO, explained: "Half of mental health disorders arise before the age of 14". 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.

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.

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