Climate change will literally drive you crazy.
Rising temperatures and increased precipitation have been linked with worsening mental health, according to a new study.
Scientists compared a decade’s worth of weather data with info from nearly two million randomly sampled U.S. residents during that same period for the research published in PNAS, the official scientific journal of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We can’t be sure of exactly what drives this link,” Nick Obradovich, the study’s lead author and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the Daily News. “It could be that hot temperatures worsen daily mood. Or it could be that people aren’t sleeping as well when nighttime temperatures are hot. But we aren’t able to say precisely what is driving the relationship.”
To examine the association between climate conditions and the mental health of Americans, researches made use of individuals’ reported mental health from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System that looked at the period between 2002 and 2012. Those taking part in the survey answered the question: “Thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression, and problems with emotions, for how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?”
The new research noted that the CDC study used was the best large-scale, randomly sampled measure of individual mental health in the country.
“The measure is spatially and temporally referenced in a manner that enables precise pairing with meteorological data,” the research read. “It is likely able to capture both clinical and subclinical distress across a wide set of possible symptoms and unlike measures of health care utilization, can account for the substantial portion of U.S. adults who fail to seek treatment.”
The results showed that increases in monthly temperature and added precipitation days each boost the monthly chance of having mental health issues. More specifically, average maximum temperatures of more than 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) can amplify the probability of having mental health issues by more than 1 percentage point compared with temperatures of 10 to 15 degrees Celsius, or 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
Months in which there were more than 25 days of precipitation increased the chance of suffering from mental health issues by 2 percentage points compared with scenarios when there was zero monthly precipitation.
That’s bad news if we continue on a path of climate change.