The impact of climate change on the prevalence of mental illness symptoms

Molly Monsour, Emily Clarke-Rubright, Wil Lieberman-Cribbin, Christopher Timmins, Emanuela Taioli, Rebecca M. Schwartz, Samantha S. Corley, Anna M. Laucis, Rajendra A. Morey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The repercussions of climate change threaten the population with an increased prevalence of extreme climate events. We explored the impact of climate change induced sea level rise (SLR) and tropical cyclone (TC) exposure on mental illness symptom prevalence. Methods: Using three datasets, TC exposure scores were calculated for each subject to determine how exposure affects posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and major depressive disorder (MDD) symptom prevalence. Inundation mapping of various SLR and storm surge (SS) scenarios were performed for the susceptible region of Miami-Dade and Broward counties to determine the population impact of flooding. Results: We found an elevated risk of mental illness symptoms from exposure to more high- intensity TCs and identified demographic variables that may contribute to this risk. Furthermore, inundation mapping demonstrated severe and widespread impact of SLR and SS on the mental health of communities. Limitations: This study did not include data directly measuring comorbidity, resilience, preparedness, or ability to adapt to climate change. Also, multiple imputation using chained equations may have been imperfect. Furthermore, there is uncertainty in predicting and mapping SLR and TC intensity, which limits complete confidence in our SS predictions. Conclusion: The impacts of climate change have been frequently studied in terms of physical health, natural disaster prevalence, and economic impacts, but rarely on mental health burden. However, it is vital that national, state, and local governments develop and deploy plans to address mental health needs along with expenditures for protecting infrastructure, the economy, and physical health from the combined effects of SLR and climate change-induced natural disasters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-440
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • Climate Change
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Hurricane
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Sea Level Rise
  • Storm Surge
  • Tropical Cyclone


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