Dear Zaria: what do I do about my climate anxiety and depression?

Dear Zaria: what do I do about my climate anxiety and depression?

I am struggling so much with depression caused by climate change and political inaction around me and I have even felt suicidal lately. I don't know who to turn to for support. I feel so alone with those struggles, even though I know I'm not. How can I find help regarding climate related depression and anxiety ?

It is extremely frustrating to be suffering, to co-witness suffering, with someone else, and they not empathize with your experience.

It makes you feel isolated, alone, bitter, angry, hopeless — like how can I be the only one who is feeling this? And, it is equally retraumatizing to consistently feel ousted from the group from where you so desperately know you should be able to seek comfort — other humans who will also, inevitably, be impacted by our changing climate.

Our bodies, naturally, squander under the weight of not being able to touch, feel, and cry in the arms and shoulders of another, so I understand how you feel.  Many of us in this fight feel this way, so you are not alone.

We are certainly living in some lonely times, especially here in the global west. We may be, perhaps, more siloed, and away from our communities than ever before. So what you are feeling is completely and utterly understandable, justifiable and relatable. You’ve been let down, by those who you feel should care about the climate in the same way you do.

It’s depressing to see that there are such polarizing opinions to climate change at both “ends” — it makes it seem as though  we’ll always be in a stalemate, and before we are able to reconcile,  the environment will snap.

I have faith, though, that there is hope, which keeps me, personally, going. We are getting closer to the other side, the more promising side, of this tug of war. The side where we accept that we cannot do anything without her, our Mother Earth.

Allow yourself to feel upset, anxious and depressed with the state of things, and even with your most immediate environment, which may not understand, or be affirming of, your struggles.

Many are hardheaded (as my mother would say, and later add “which makes for a soft behind”) and will not realize the serious impacts of climate change, unfortunately, until it is too late. We must accept this part of the fight, this part of the activism. That not everyone will be turned, that not everyone will cooperate and participate.

Go where the love and appreciation for the environment is mutual.

Instead, for your own sanity, engage and mobilize with those who are doing the work. Go where the love and appreciation for the environment is mutual. Even if that’s just an online space, even if that’s just finding one more friend who likes spending time outdoors.

More importantly, continue to speak your truth about climate change — the outrage, the frustration with the inaction, be a part of a collective hum that cries out, “we must do better.” Discontent is still activism.

Already, these voices have become larger, and we’re getting inches and inches, closer and closer, to the ultimate goal, which is to divest from fossil fuels and embrace a cleaner, more sustainable, and ethically just, environmentally healthy world.

Remember that it is anger, sometimes, that propels non-believers into action — the spark they might need, if you will, to finally come to their senses. Especially if their anger is coming from someone they know well, or trust.

If therapy is an option for you, orient your conversations with potential practitioners around their awareness of the environment — ask:

“How often do you think about the environment in your daily life and how much would you say climate change informs your practice?”

Having support in your life that centers the future of our environment is important for your personal wellbeing, and should not be overlooked.

The Climate Psychology Alliance of North America maintains a database of more than 100 “climate aware” therapists, which is a great resource to start with.

Finally, try and locate any environment-based groups or organizations in your area, where you can, again, regularly be surrounded by affirming, climate-conscious care.

The most addicting part of depression and anxiety is rumination and hopelessness — Will we ever get out of this climate crisis? Will folks ever take it seriously? Will we ever be able to mobilize enough people to create real change?

These are scary, large, existential questions that are too heavy for one mind, and emotional body, to carry. We can not carry that burden alone.

Remember that life is short, and even just one drop towards enacting change is better than an entirely empty well. Find your people, stay committed to your cause and, most importantly, remember to enjoy the environment while you still can.



If you, or someone you know, are battling suicidal ideations and need immediate assistance, dial 9-8-8 to receive 24/7 support.

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