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finding 8.1 : exposure-weather-related-disasters-results-mental-health-consequences
Many people exposed to climate-related or weather-related disasters experience stress and serious mental health consequences. Depending on the type of the disaster, these serious mental health consequences include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and general anxiety, which often occur at the same time [Very High Confidence]. The majority of affected people recover over time, although a significant proportion of exposed individuals develop chronic psychological dysfunction [High Confidence].
This finding is from chapter 8 of The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment.
Process for developing key messages: The chapter was developed through technical discussions of relevant evidence and expert deliberation by the report authors at several workshops, teleconferences, and email exchanges. The authors considered inputs and comments submitted by the public, the National Academies of Sciences, and Federal agencies. For additional information on the overall report process, see Appendices 2–3.
Areas of focus for the Mental Health and Well-Being chapter were determined based on the most relevant available scientific literature relating to mental health, wellness, and climate change, as well as the mental health impacts of events associated with climate change. Much of the evidence on these impacts has been compiled in countries outside the United States; however, the scenarios are similar and the evidence directly relevant to the situation in the United States, and thus this literature has been considered in the chapter. The evidence-base on mental health and wellness following extreme weather disasters is both well-established and relevant to climate change. The existence of highly relevant scientific literature on specific concerns directly influenced by climate change—such as the effects of extreme heat, stress associated with the threat and perception of climate change, and special population risks—resulted in the inclusion of these more targeted topics. Although significant scientific literature for resilience exists, in-depth discussions of adaptation, coping, and treatment approaches are outside the scope of this chapter, but are discussed in brief in the Resilience and Recovery section.
Description of evidence base: Very strong evidence from multiple studies shows a consensus that many people exposed to climate- or weather-related natural disasters experience stress reactions and serious psychological harm, which often occur simultaneously.ef435f7f-82b0-426c-b518-cb23f76612ff 9502bb11-b920-48a6-a4ae-c6453a55d3a7,1357006d-175e-4414-9793-761618338c8d,a9cc82e3-1eb0-451c-90d3-dbe883c203d7,f8e99ff1-f5d6-4b9b-a844-2007310584f8 Though many of these studies describe the mental health impacts of specific historical events, they demonstrate the types of mental health issues that will continue to arise as climate change leads to increases in the frequency, severity, and duration of extreme climate- and weather-related events such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires.c3776534-f010-44e8-ae2f-6d069cfaba37 569a5671-661e-457c-aa75-8a221911ac26 8702da89-76d0-44e1-9eda-b04dc6a26385 a95f121c-2fa2-4d4a-affe-576dad344217 9047c320-e8cb-4429-920d-b2d2d7f01ffc 0acc2713-8395-425c-b4ff-9754b7257048 15b8a671-4186-4cdb-aa80-d9e7012840e5 4489b5a2-b658-4e62-8a8a-c3805b6dccf1 1617ae90-36e2-48f5-b5ef-f5fb1aafb399 89d2438b-bddd-4ded-8e17-1cf498b28571 1a78f1ef-1f10-44b7-b040-b8109748255c 7d8b53d6-8f6b-4933-a116-41f415292792 0e71e17a-442f-46d8-b62f-cc3213f85208 8abc0ed4-9d56-40bf-8995-35313552618c a7957dc8-1ead-4328-8250-a695f5f62c30 Strong support is found in a number of recent studies for the potential for climate change-related psychological effects, including grief/bereavement, increased substance use or misuse, and thoughts of suicide.8702da89-76d0-44e1-9eda-b04dc6a26385 dd605fa4-98b4-486a-8d7c-07311b957d30 de8ce512-2778-48ef-8874-aae2ed5afce8 895a462d-2faa-44e3-a888-31efb349f44d d49018ea-2172-4983-8a51-f61feccb6e11 1231497d-b014-4c16-abda-cb4e00b2b695
Research on individual resilience and recovery shows that a majority of individuals psychologically affected by a traumatic event will recover over time. However, a convincing body of recent research shows that a significant proportion (typically up to 20%) of individuals directly exposed to the event will develop chronic levels of psychological dysfunction, which may not get better or be resolved.9047c320-e8cb-4429-920d-b2d2d7f01ffc dd605fa4-98b4-486a-8d7c-07311b957d30 5aff4109-04b3-4ac6-a945-58664490b6fe 11180485-b3b5-4d33-85df-be175655dcca 11ed1918-b422-41d3-b704-05d14e45b278 97358ea1-2cd7-4dcf-a444-cbe7cd2e9cf0 a8e44cff-cd49-46f4-a54c-7a365097cbdf 3bc7615b-d281-4fd6-a367-c94022d367a8
New information and remaining uncertainties: There remains some uncertainty about the degree to which future extreme weather and climate events will impact mental health and wellness. An increase in the scope, frequency, or severity of these events will increase the number of people impacted and the degree to which they are affected. However, efforts that effectively increase preparation for both the physical and psychological consequences of extreme weather- and climate-related events could decrease the impact on mental health and well-being.
Assessment of confidence based on evidence: Numerous and recent studies have examined the mental health and wellness impacts of climate- and weather-related events among a variety of populations. Taken as a whole, the strength of this scientific evidence provides very high confidence regarding the adverse impacts of environmental changes and events associated with global climate change on individual and societal mental health and well-being, and high confidence that these impacts will be long-lasting for a significant portion of the impacted population.
- Immediate and longer-term stressors and the mental health of Hurricane Ike survivors (0acc2713)
- Exposure to Hurricane-Related Stressors and Mental Illness After Hurricane Katrina (0e71e17a)
- Resilience and trajectories of posttraumatic stress among youth exposed to disaster (11180485)
- Children of Katrina: Lessons learned about postdisaster symptoms and recovery patterns (11ed1918)
- Psychiatric comorbidity, red flag behaviors, and associated outcomes among office-based buprenorphine patients following Hurricane Sandy (1231497d)
- One year later: Mental illness prevalence and disparities among New Orleans residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina (1357006d)
- Prevalence and consequences of disaster-related illness and injury from Hurricane Ike (15b8a671)
- Psychosocial impact of disasters: Victims of the Baldwin Hills fire (1617ae90)
- Mental health outcomes among vulnerable residents after Hurricane Sandy: Implications for disaster research and planning (1a78f1ef)
- Coping with displacement from Hurricane Katrina: Predictors of one-year post-traumatic stress and depression symptom trajectories (3bc7615b)
- Resilience in the face of disaster: Prevalence and longitudinal course of mental disorders following Hurricane Ike (4489b5a2)
- Financial and social circumstances and the incidence and course of PTSD in Mississippi during the first two years after Hurricane Katrina (569a5671)
- Trajectories of posttraumatic stress symptomatology in older persons affected by a large-magnitude disaster (5aff4109)
- Mental Health Outcomes at the Jersey Shore After Hurricane Sandy (7d8b53d6)
- Trends in mental illness and suicidality after Hurricane Katrina (8702da89)
- Hurricane Katrina's first responders: The struggle to protect and serve in the aftermath of the disaster (895a462d)
- Effects of rumination on child and adolescent depressive reactions to a natural disaster: The 2010 Nashville flood (89d2438b)
- Drought under global warming: a review (8abc0ed4)
- Children's postdisaster trajectories of PTS symptoms: Predicting chronic distress (9047c320)
- Mental health outcomes among adults in Galveston and Chambers counties after Hurricane Ike (9502bb11)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder in an emergency department population one year after Hurricane Katrina (97358ea1)
- Climate Change and Human Well-Being: Global Challenges and Opportunities (a7957dc8)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder symptom trajectories in Hurricane Katrina affected youth (a8e44cff)
- Hurricane-related exposure experiences and stressors, other life events, and social support: Concurrent and prospective impact on children's persistent posttraumatic stress symptoms (a95f121c)
- Reconsideration of harm's way: Onsets and comorbidity patterns of disorders in preschool children and their caregivers following Hurricane Katrina (a9cc82e3)
- A prospective study of the impact of floods on the mental and physical health of older adults (c3776534)
- Impact of Hurricane Rita on adolescent substance use (d49018ea)
- Trajectories of psychological distress among low-income, female survivors of Hurricane Katrina (dd605fa4)
- Postdisaster course of alcohol use disorders in systematically studied survivors of 10 disasters (de8ce512)
- Children's symptoms of posttraumatic stress and depression after a natural disaster: Comorbidity and risk factors (ef435f7f)
- Differences in the determinants of posttraumatic stress disorder and depression after a mass traumatic event (f8e99ff1)
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