The Anthropocene is “an unofficial unit of geologic time, used to describe the most recent period in Earth’s history when human activity started to have a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems” (National Geographic, n.d). Unfortunately, human dominance over Earth’s biophysical processes has evoked negative emotional responses due to the scale of environmental change (Albrecht, 2019; 2020).
In today’s world, many individuals suffer from feelings of being emotionally lost and trapped within social and political systems that hurt our environment (Albrecht, 2019). Consequently, despite many people in the Global North living lives of material affluence, many do so at the expense of their emotional and mental wellbeing.
Though the research literature on climate change and mental health is nascent, evidence suggests that there will be an increase in the prevalence and incidence of psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, and suicide (Cianconi, Betrò & Janiri, 2020; Clayton et. al, 2017). Other major epidemiological trends include “higher rates of aggression and violence, more mental health emergencies, an increased sense of helplessness, hopelessness, or fatalism, and intense feelings of loss” (Clayton et. al, 2017, p. 4). These feelings of loss, helplessness and hopelessness are related to a phenomenon known as psychoterratic syndromes. “Psychoterratic syndromes” is an umbrella term that includes a number of mental states that can be conceptualized as “Earth emotions” (Albrecht, 2019). Such conditions refer to the relationship between our minds and our planet and includes phenomena such as: eco-anxiety, eco-paralysis and ecological grief.
- Albrecht, G. A. (2020). Negating solastalgia: An emotional revolution from the anthropocene to
the symbiocene. American Imago, 77(1), 9-30. https://doi.org/10.1353/aim.2020.0001
- Albrecht, G. (2019). Earth emotions: New words for a new world. Cornell University Press.
- Cianconi, P., Betrò, S., & Janiri, L. (2020). The impact of climate change on mental health: A
systematic descriptive review. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11(74) 1-15.
- Clayton, S., Manning, C. M., Krygsman, K., & Speiser, M. (2017). Mental Health and Our Changing
Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance. American Psychological Association, and
- National Geographic. (n.d.). Anthropocene. In Nationalgeographic.org encyclopedia. Retrieved
March 11, 2022, from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/anthropocene/