The Environment Affects Your Mental Health

Technology has made travel fashionable and profitable. And moving away from home is not only a rite of passage, it’s a status symbol. Clearly, we’ve become a transient society that bends its surroundings to fit its needs. We control our environment; it doesn’t control us. Or does it?

“We like to think we’re cool, 21st-century people, but the basic connection to the land is still big. We haven’t evolved that much,” argues Professor Glen Albrecht in an article on WorldChanging.com.

Albrecht and a team of Australian researchers have discovered what they believe is a new form of depression related to changing environmental conditions. They call it “solastalgia,” a combination of the Latin words for comfort (solacium) and pain (algia).

Solastalgia is the “palpable sense of dislocation and loss that people feel when they perceive changes to their local environment as harmful,” Albrecht explains. “It’s a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at home.”

The team’s research was conducted in New South Wales among communities where land has been ravaged by coal mining. Man-made climate change, however, threatens to make solastalgia a universal disorder.

Already people across the globe are becoming wary of “freak weather” including severe drought, colossal tropical storms, and low snowfall. The Inuit use the word uggianaqtuq, which means weather has become a stranger rather than a trusted friend.

In a blog posting in Wired magazine, columnist Clive Thompson wagers that “the next victim of climate change will be our minds.”

Are you still willing to bet we’re in control?