All You Need To Know About Solastalgia!
Our climate is not the same, it seems like it is changing by the hour! Now, who is to be blamed for climate change? Humans! Who is suffering because of climate change? Humans! Who can do something to stop climate change? Humans!
We can debate for hours on what is important and what we need to drop in order to reduce the speed of climate change. However, we have completely skipped to notice the impact of climate change on our mental health.
There are so many people deeply troubled because of climate change. People are developing trauma, depression, anxiety, etc. because of rapid change in climate causing natural disasters. The aftermath of disasters is just so heart-wrenching.
People who have been a part of a natural disaster have a chance of developing a type of depression called solastalgia. Today we are going to be talking about solastalgia, its signs, what’s the science behind it, and how it can be treated.
Shall we begin?
What Is Solastalgia?
Solastalgia is a type of depressive disorder where an individual who has been through a natural disaster grieves the loss of their old life, their homes, etc. In a natural calamity, there is a lot of disruption, houses are ripped, neighborhoods are abandoned, and lives are lost… to say the least.
During and after a natural disaster people may develop a lot of mental health conditions like trauma, anxiety, stress, etc. Solastalgia is just one of these many mental health conditions. Solastalgia is a specific kind of depression that happens after someone has experienced a natural disaster.
These people miss all the things they have lost in the disaster. They are extremely sad about losing the home they built on their own, they miss the memories they made there, and they miss the people they used to live with. Some of them feel like they have lost their identity as well.
Natural Disasters That Can Cause Solastalgia
- Mass Fire/Forest fire
- Too hot/cold
Solastalgia: Where Did It Come From?
The word solastalgia is a combination of a Latin word (Solacium, which means comfort) and a Greek word (Algos, which means pain). Glenn Albrecht, an environmental philosopher from Australia was the one who coined the word Solastalgia.
In the early 2000s, Glenn Albrecht introduced the world to this condition where people would feel anguished and sad because of a negative environmental occurrence. He was inspired by the word nostalgia while naming this depressive condition caused by climate change.
However, the difference between nostalgia and solastalgia is that with nostalgia, when you return to the previous setting that you missed, your feelings of sadness go away. Whereas in solastalgia, the feeling remains even when you return to the previous setting.
What Are The Symptoms Of Solastalgia?
Solastalgia has a wide range of signs and symptoms, however, initially it was difficult to identify the conditions. This is because every individual has their own unique set of symptoms ranging from a sense of mild sadness to extreme psychosis.
Here are some typical symptoms of solastalgia;
- Signs of Anxiety
- Feeling unsafe and insecure
- Sleeping problems
- Distress and despair
- Helplessness and hopelessness
- Grief, shame, or guilt
- Change in appetite
- Suicidal tendencies
What Does Science Say About Solastalgia?
Solastalgia is a mental health condition that has not been studied in depth till now. Although there are scientific teams working on finding more details about solastalgia. Mental health experts claim that weather change has a significant impact on an individual’s mental as well as physical health.
A 2019 study states that people who undergo severe climate changes or experience a natural disaster first hand tend to develop emotional, mental, and spiritual distress and challenges.
In another study (2020) it was found that there is a clear influence of climate change or extreme weather change on the mental health conditions among participants.
How Is Solastalgia Treated?
There are a set of treatment options available for conditions like solastalgia. Unfortunately, many people continue to suffer without seeking any professional help. It can be because of a lack of awareness or fear of stigma.
Here are a few treatment approaches that can help people with solastalgia;
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: it helps people identify their negative thoughts and ideas and replace them with positive ones. This helps in reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms.
- Medication: although there is no specific medicine for solastalgia, your doctor can prescribe you some clinical drugs to manage your symptoms which will indirectly help you with solastalgia.
Other than these you can do a few things on your own to help recover from solastalgia;
- Do not ignore your feelings: it is important that you validate your feelings and emotions so that you can process them properly. It is important to acknowledge and accept your feelings to finally overcome them.
- Make new memories: if you can’t bring what’s lost, focus on what’s coming to you. Make new friends, decorate your home differently, and make new memories in this new life of yours.
That’s All Folks!
I hope you found this blog about solastalgia informative, helpful, and interesting. Do share this blog with your friends and family so that we all know what solastalgia is and what we can do if climate change is affecting our mental health.
Thanks for reading
Take care and stay safe.