N.Those who experienced the 2018 California wildfires, known as Campfires, are likely to forget it. A fire in northern Butte County, caused by a power line failure, raged for 17 days from November 8 to November 25, burning 240 square miles. Destroyed over 18,000 homes and killed 85 people.Either way, the campfire was a traumatic event for those who experienced it. PLOS Climateexactly determined how It was traumatic for survivors and provided new insights into the long-term psychological costs of extreme climate events.
Led by a team of researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), the study is based on a survey of 75 adults conducted in 2019 and 2020 (6-12 months after the campfire outbreak). Forty-eight of the subjects lived in or near Butte, Northern California. Another 27 of her people selected as controls live in the San Diego area. Twenty-seven of her 48 people in Butte County were directly exposed to the fire, with property and homes damaged or destroyed by the blaze. The remaining 21 of her were exposed indirectly, reporting knowing of friends and family members who lost their homes and property. None of her 27 members of the control group were exposed.
Researchers have found that exposure to climatic trauma (even indirect exposure) has long-term effects on mental health in the form of both depression and anxiety. In addition, their ability to focus and perform cognitive tasks was also negatively affected. Both result sets add another item to the growing cost of climate change to the health and well-being of people on Earth.
The researchers began by asking all 75 subjects to complete standard screening questions for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The response options were “Not at all bothered”, “A little concerned”, and “Very concerned”. 67% of people directly exposed to fire said they were slightly bothered or very annoyed compared to 14% of the indirectly exposed group and 0% of the non-exposed group .
More articles from TIME
The same subjects then completed two more comprehensive questionnaires measuring depression and anxiety. The depression survey asked 10 questions, including whether there was little interest or pleasure in doing anything in the past two weeks. I was depressed or hopeless. I had a hard time concentrating. Chronically tired or had little energy. The anxiety survey asked subjects whether they felt anxious, tense, or tense. You cannot stop or control your worry. I was so restless that I could not sit still. Both surveys gave her four choices: never, a few days, more than half the time, and almost every day. The test is then scored on a scale of 1 to 27, with scores of 1 to 4 indicating minimal depression or anxiety. 5-9 indicating mild cases of symptoms. 10-15 to indicate moderate case. and 15 and above are considered severe.
The results were astonishing. Those directly exposed to fire scored an average of 10.1 for anxiety and 8.9 for depression, compared to 9.7 and 11.8 for those indirectly exposed and just 3.2 and 2.6 for those not exposed at all. This result is particularly noteworthy. That’s because people who were directly and indirectly exposed scored nearly identically on both depression and anxiety measures. directly or worse.
“Overall, depression and anxiety were 1.5 times higher in the directly and indirectly exposed groups compared to the unexposed group,” said Jyoti Mishra, a neuroscientist at UCSD and co-author of the paper. was three times more likely from
The results of the new study add to the growing body of research showing the psychological effects of extreme climate events. Previous research in the journal Lancet Psychiatry When psychiatric services demonstrated negative mental health effects on hurricane survivors. His 2021 study by Mishra et al. also showed a higher incidence of her PTSD in 725 campfire survivors.
For that alone, the new study’s findings of depression and anxiety were troubling. But the researchers went further and studied brain function in three groups. The subject was fitted with an electroencephalogram (EEG) array and played a series of his four on-screen games designed to measure abilities such as memory, selective attention, distraction removal, and emotional processing. bottom. The subject performed well on all but one of her tests, which was designed to measure her ability to filter out distractions.
In that game, called Middle Fish, subjects were flashed with a picture of a school of fish, so that the school of fish was clearly visible in the center. The fish in the center faced either left or right, but the fish on both sides were lined up facing one direction and the other. The subject took 1 second to click in the direction the center fish was facing, but ignored the side fish. Here, there were notable differences between groups. For comparison, the unexposed control group score was recorded as 1.0. The indirectly exposed group scored as low as 0.8, while the directly exposed group scored only 0.6.
“Flankerfish interferes with your processing,” says Mishra. “The directly and indirectly exposed groups were more sensitive to these distractions.”
EEG measurements revealed another dimension of test results. In general, lower scores for directly exposed subjects had greater activity in the frontal and parietal regions of the brain, indicating that they were putting in more effort to get the game right, but still It shows that the performance was worse than private group.
“The directly exposed group in particular put in about 20% more effort than the other two groups,” says Mishra.
In a statement accompanying its release, the paper’s authors added: Although the researchers haven’t measured the spillover effect of their findings, diminished ability to filter out distractions can affect job performance, parenting, and other tasks that require close attention, such as driving or operating machinery. activities may be adversely affected.
Video game performance by itself is hardly an issue when it comes to the pain people experience during extreme events like wildfires, hurricanes, and floods. However, this study shows that the post-traumatic effects of climate change do exist, and when it comes to regulating climate change activities and providing mental health services to survivors of climate-related disasters, It has to be part of the way you think.
“Our study is the first step toward quantifying these effects,” says Mishra. “We need to keep this in mind when we think about the solutions we create for our communities and the impact of these events on people living in affected areas.”
Other must-read articles from TIME