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Anxiety and the Ecological Crisis: An Analysis of Eco-Anxiety and Climate Anxiety

Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science, HELSUS & Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7836; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197836
Received: 31 August 2020 / Revised: 15 September 2020 / Accepted: 18 September 2020 / Published: 23 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Health and Sustainability)
Eco-anxiety and climate anxiety are widely discussed in contemporary media and are subjects of growing research interest. However, there is a lack of research about the definitions and variations of these phenomena. This article analyzes various views of eco-anxiety from a wide range of disciplines. Insights from various anxiety theories are used to discuss empirical studies about forms of eco-anxiety. The article points out that uncertainty, unpredictability, and uncontrollability seem to be important factors in eco-anxiety. Most forms of eco-anxiety appear to be non-clinical, but cases of “pathological” eco-anxiety are also discussed. Other relevant terms and phenomena are scrutinized, such as ecological grief, solastalgia, and ecological trauma. The relationship between studies on eco-anxiety and research about ecological emotions and affect is probed. Eco-anxiety is found to be closely connected to fear and worry, but several disciplines include discussion of its character as existential anxiety. Psychosocial and sociological perspectives point out that social dynamics shape forms of eco-anxiety in profound ways. While paralyzing forms of eco-anxiety emerge as a problem, it is noted that eco-anxiety manifests itself also as “practical anxiety”, which leads to gathering of new information and reassessment of behavior options. This variety of forms of eco-anxiety should be taken into account in healthcare and public discussion.
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Keywords: ecoanxiety; climate change anxiety; ecological grief; existential anxiety; anxiety disorders; psychology; sociology; psychosocial research; emotion; affect ecoanxiety; climate change anxiety; ecological grief; existential anxiety; anxiety disorders; psychology; sociology; psychosocial research; emotion; affect
MDPI and ACS Style

Panu, P. Anxiety and the Ecological Crisis: An Analysis of Eco-Anxiety and Climate Anxiety. Sustainability 2020, 12, 7836. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197836

AMA Style

Panu P. Anxiety and the Ecological Crisis: An Analysis of Eco-Anxiety and Climate Anxiety. Sustainability. 2020; 12(19):7836. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197836

Chicago/Turabian Style

Panu, Pihkala. 2020. "Anxiety and the Ecological Crisis: An Analysis of Eco-Anxiety and Climate Anxiety" Sustainability 12, no. 19: 7836. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197836

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