How to define eco-anxiety?
The compound term "eco-anxiety" naturally refers to "ecology" on the one hand and "anxiety" on the other. The expression was invented and theorized in 1997 by Véronique Lapaige, a Belgian-Canadian public health researcher.
To date, there is no public and official definition of "eco-anxiety", however the international community underlines two characteristic points: first of all, a feeling of worry and anxiety linked to climatic events and to the different scenarios that threaten the planet in the coming years.
Despite the diversity of definitions, in "The Hogg Eco-Anxiety Scale: Development and validation of a multidimensional scale", L.Hogg and R.Watsford and other Australian and New Zealand researchers try to provide a precise definition of what eco-anxiety is. According to them, it is a "term that accounts for anxiety experiences related to environmental crises". They point out that it refers to "anxiety related to climate change, as well as anxiety about a multiplicity of environmental disasters, including the elimination of entire ecosystems and plant and animal species, increased incidence of natural disasters and extreme weather events, global mass pollution, deforestation, sea level rise, and global warming."
Others, such as the epidemiologist A. Desbiolles in "Eco-anxiety: Living serenely in a damaged world" points out that eco-anxiety "reflects the anticipatory anxiety that the various scenarios established by scientists-such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)-on the viability of the planet in the coming decades may provoke".
What is the nature of eco-anxiety: a mental illness or an anxiety disorder?
Despite the absence of a consensus on the academic definition of the term, it is clear that eco-anxiety is not a mental illness. Indeed, the psychiatrist A. Pelissolo shows in "Les émotions du dérèglement climatique" that eco-anxiety is neither a "syndrome" nor "a psychiatric diagnosis insofar as it appears neither in the DSM-5 nor in the ICD-10, the two classification tools of mental disorders used in the world". As eco-anxiety is not a mental illness or a pathology, the researchers warn about the risks of a possible "pathologization" and thus to inappropriate and ineffective responses to the state felt by individuals.
How to identify eco-anxiety?
According to specialists such as A.Pelissolo mentioned previously "people who declare to suffer from eco-anxiety report symptoms in the field of anxiety disorders: panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, obsessive thoughts, eating disorders, negative emotions". The researcher underlines in particular that "these symptoms are at the origin of a notable disturbance of the daily life in certain individuals and the consultations for this reason would be more and more numerous, in particular in the United States".
Do not confuse eco-anxiety with solastalgia
Often the term solastalgia is associated with that of eco-anxiety, however the latter coined by G.Albrecht means a "pain or illness caused by the loss or lack of comfort and the feeling of isolation related to the present state of one's place of life and territory". It is important to underline that despite a misleading association of the two terms, solastalgia depicts a state experienced in the present, while eco-anxiety refers to an anxiety of anticipation. Thus for A.Desbiolles "the eco-anxiety is anticipatory and eschatological". The solastalgia is more turned towards the present or the past: it is the nostalgia of a nature threatened to disappear.
Learn how to feel good despite eco-anxiety
In the webinar organized by Evoluno on eco-anxiety, the psychologist E.Altenloh gave keys to understanding this phenomenon by offering practical advice to apply now to feel better in your daily life despite the difficulties and negative emotions. We give you here the essential points evoked by the specialist, we also invite you to go and see the webinar for more information on the subject.
1.Identify the origin of his anxiety: try to identify the source of this "eco-emotion
2.Identify the means of action available: how to act? What actions can be taken to help oneself?
3.Implement possible actions to reduce them
1.Adopt active listening: ask open-ended questions to the person in difficulty
2.Adopt a neutral and non-judgmental posture:
3.Have a non solutionist approach: do not propose solutions
1.help from specialized psychologists
2.Avoid TQR groups led by people who are not qualified in counseling
3. Encourage groups adapted to your needs and desires:
Being aware of climate issues is important to change mentalities and to advance the trend towards more sustainability and responsible behavior towards the planet and its resources. However, in addition to protecting the planet, it is also necessary to protect yourself in order to keep a peaceful conscience and clear ideas. Eco-anxiety is not a mental illness, it is possible to change your perception of things as well as your mental patterns to move towards more serenity and harmony between you and your environment. Know that in case of need you can always count on a personalized accompaniment and a comprehensive approach with qualified psychologists and specialists but also with our virtual solution Evoluo.