climate anxiety

Feeling Anxiety Around Climate Change? You're Not Alone. Here's What to Know About ‘Climate Distress'

Some people are worried about climate change to the point that they need therapy

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This story originally appeared on NBCBayArea.com

The Bay Area is facing its third straight year of drought and there's no telling when things will turn around.

Scientists say the drought, the increased wildfires, and the floods are signs that the Earth is getting warmer. And that has many people worried to the point that they need therapy for what is being called "climate distress."

"It's my major worry," Oakland resident Judy Pope says of climate change. "Major source of anxiety. Major source of anguish."

Pope suffers from climate anxiety, or climate distress. She is always worried about the planet and what humans are doing to it.

"The climate anxiety is just big. It's huge," Pope says. "How much bigger can a thing be than to worry about whether life is going to continue on the planet?"

Experts say climate anxiety is not a medical diagnosis, but it exists, and there's thousands of people all over the world who are feeling it.

"It can be anxiety," said Dr. Robin Cooper, an associate clinical professor at the University of San Francisco. "It can be sadness. It can be grief, panicky feelings. It can be a sense of hopelessness -- of dread."

For Pope, therapy is going on long hikes with friends and enjoying the outdoors. She also got help from what is known as the Good Grief Network. The network is like a 12-step therapy session with people who share the same climate distress.

Pope also volunteers with groups working to stop global warming.

"Sitting at home and being depressed is the worst thing you can do," Pope says. "And I hope people find some kind of help."

Pope says it's perfectly normal to feel anxiety over global warming and adds maybe it's not normal if you don't feel it at all.

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