What if this new episode of heat wave had an impact on our anxieties about climate change? Studies show that directly experiencing the effects of these changes can increase instances of eco-anxiety. A necessary evil to push us to act?
As water supplies dwindle and droughts follow one after another, some warn of the psychological consequences of these periods.
If the impact is obvious on our resources, it is also necessary to measure it on mental health. As Antoine Pelissolo, head of department at the CHU Henri-Mondor de Créteil, interviewed by France Info, episodes of high heat are reminders of the imminence of climate change and are therefore by extension creators of stress and eco-anxiety:
” We see waves of people struggling to project themselves into a future that looks increasingly bleak. The first blow is a blow of stress, a shock, but some will also enter a kind of tunnel of anxiety, anguish and at times also of depression when there is a loss of hope. »
Eco-anxiety refers to the discomfort of some people in the face of climatic upheavals and the prospect of collapse.
This observation is confirmed by numerous studies. According to the popular science website Scientific American, the recent exceptional heat waves observed have fueled eco-anxiety. People were interviewed before and after being hit by scorching temperatures in the spring of 2021 in British Columbia, western Canada. The results show a significant increase in anxiety after the heat wave. “Most participants said they were ‘fairly’ or ‘much more’ worried about climate change than before the disaster. »
Will the heat wave currently taking place in France have the same effects?
Young people particularly affected by eco-anxiety
The 20-30 year olds are particularly affected by the phenomenon of eco-anxiety. How to explain it? In an interview at National Geographic published in 2020, Véronique Lapaige, Belgian-Canadian public health and mental health researcher who conceptualized the term “eco-anxiety” in 1996recalled precisely why eco-anxiety is observed more in this age group:
“The younger ones are bombarded with a lot of dramatic information to which they haven’t had time to gradually get used to. They therefore feel them much more violently.
In addition, older people have already made their life, they have a family, a job. They are able to decontextualize this information much more easily and focus on other things to avoid thinking about the disaster to come. This is less the case for younger people. »
Eco-anxiety has consequences: it can trigger a brake or a motivation for certain important decisions, such as the choice of a profession, or the prospect of starting a family. For Véronique Lapaige, it is important to see eco-anxiety not just as a ” problem “but also “as an engine to change things”.
Eco-anxiety can indeed have a paralyzing effect. It is then a question of not falling into denial, saying that everything will be fine and that everything will work out, but rather of finding action levers to try to control the impact of the continuous flow of anxiety-provoking information around you.
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