A journalistic investigation dedicated to the climate anxiety, focused on the state of play of both American and European academic research in the field

Reggio Emilia | Started on 24/04/2023

The first scientific definition of climate anxiety dates back to March 2017, described by the American Psychology Association as “a chronic fear of environmental ruin”. Six years later, eco-anxiety is still a poorly understood area of ​​academic research in Europe and a not reported phenomenon in the news. This investigative journalistic piece of news aims to shine a light on the current academic knowledge available on the topic of climate anxiety, focusing especially on what has been understood so far (definition, symptoms, reactions, etc.) and what still needs to be investigated. As H. Wang, recalls, climate anxiety is not yet considered a mental health disorder, nor it is accompanied by formal guidelines that allow for a clinical diagnose or a treatment. However, eco-anxiety is a multidimensional concept, whose urgency and complexity require an interdisciplinary approach.

Unfortunately, academic research on this topic is still almost non-existent in Italy. The first study was conducted by M. Innocenti in August 2021, but then academic research has paid little attention to the role that the informative/digital diet can play in the onset of eco-anxiety. Certainly, a greater knowledge of eco-anxiety and its effects opens up new scenarios. On the one hand, for instance, it could push people to adopt more sustainable behaviours in their daily lives; on the other hand, however, it is already pushing some people to question very delicate issues such as parenting. But eco-anxiety could also play a leading role in more everyday decisions as where to buy a house or whether to carry on a family business. To conclude, the article states the importance to start a public debate on eco-anxiety and, more generally, on the effects of climate change on mental health, as well as scientific research gains momentum and analyzes eco-anxiety with a multidisciplinary methodology.

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Editor’s Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.