The effects of climate change, including extreme heat, humidity, and flooding, are linked to increased rates of depression and anxiety in Bangladesh. The corresponding study was published in The Lancet.
“Previous global research has found a link between these climate-related phenomena and adverse mental health outcomes in terms of depression and anxiety,” said the study’s lead author Syed Shabab Wahid, DrPH, MPH, an assistant professor in the Department of Global Health at Georgetown University’s School of Health, in a press release.
“As climate change worsens, temperatures and humidity will continue to increase, as will natural disasters, such as extreme flooding, which portends worsening impact on our collective mental health, globally,” he added.
For the current study, researchers analyzed two rounds of nationally representative household data from Bangladesh, including 7086 individuals, between August and September 2019 and January and February 2020. Depression and anxiety were assessed via questionnaire, and were measured against prevalence estimates from 2011 national population data.
The researchers also assessed for exposure to flooding within the last 12 months via questionnaires and collected temperature and humidity data from 43 weather stations.
In the end, they found that an increase in mean temperature of 1°C within the two months preceding the study was linked to a 21% high incidence of anxiety and a 24% higher incidence of depression and anxiety together. While a 1-gram mean increase in mean humidity was not linked to depression or anxiety alone, it occurred alongside a 6% higher chance of both conditions together.
Meanwhile, experience of flooding in the last 12 months was linked to a 31% higher risk for depression, a 69% higher risk for anxiety, and an 87% higher risk for both conditions.
The researchers now aim to develop community-based, culturally appropriate mental health interventions for Bangladesh. They also plan to conduct further research on the causes and effects of climate change on mental health.
Sources: EurekAlert, The Lancet