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Climate change could make dementia, depression and epilepsy worse: what you need to know




Climate change could make dementia, depression and epilepsy worse: what you need to know


Extreme temperatures caused by climate change could increase hospital admissions and deaths from health problems such as dementia, depression and epilepsy, according to a new study, which echoes previous research showing that climate change is having negative impacts on human health.

Key facts

The researchers looked at several nervous system disorders – including dementia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, stroke and migraine – and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and anxiety, according to the study published Wednesday in the Lancet Neurology.

The risk of dying from stroke and dementia increases with higher temperatures, while both extremely high and low temperatures are associated with a greater mortality risk for many mental disorders such as depression.

Researchers also found that as temperatures rise, so do the number of hospital admissions related to dementia, migraines, various mental disorders and multiple sclerosis.

Dementia patients are more susceptible to damage from extreme hot and cold temperatures – such as hypothermia and heat-related illnesses – and severe weather conditions, because cognitive impairment limits their ability to adapt to changes in the environment, the study said.

The researchers believe that several factors, including pollution, increased humidity and reduced sun exposure, all influence mental disorders, while neurological disorders and their treatments make it harder for the body to adapt to changing temperatures.

To cope, the study suggests that patients with these conditions may need to adopt new behaviors to mitigate the effects of climate change, such as drinking more water, avoiding exercise when it’s hot, or using more treatments.

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Important background

In addition to mental health and neurological disorders, health effects of climate change Involving worsened respiratory problems, heart disease and an increased risk of West Nile virus, Lyme disease and water and foodborne illnesses. Since extreme weather conditions increase due to climate change, the health impacts associated with these events, including death, asthma and frostbite, are also disappointing increase, with different regions of the country affected by climate change in different ways. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts the Midwest will see the greatest increase in premature deaths from extreme temperatures than any other region, and the Southeast faces the greatest risk of mosquito-related illnesses as warmer temperatures increase mosquito populations. One new disorder that climate change has caused is “climate anxiety”, that is the fear of climate change and its impact on the world, and it mainly affects children and young adults, according to the research. “The whole concept of climate fear is an additional, potentially heavy influence,” said Dr. Sanjay Sisodiya, lead author of the study and professor at the University College London Institute of Neurology, said in a statement.


In April, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that governments have a responsibility to stop climate change and its negative impacts on their citizens. This came after a group of elderly Swiss women filed a lawsuit saying they are at greater risk of dying from heatwaves because Switzerland has not done enough to protect them from the effects of climate change. The court said it is a violation of fundamental human rights for a government to fail to combat climate change, for example by meeting its emissions targets. The court criticized Switzerland for failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implement a framework to tackle climate change. Switzerland was ordered to pay approximately $87,000 in legal fees to the group of more than 1,000 women aged 64 and over.

Read further

Switzerland Climate Change Case Links Policy to Human Rights: What You Need to Know About a Historic Decision (Forbes)