Alterations of water flows resulting from the manifestation of powerful hydro–social imaginaries often produce an uneven distribution of burdens and benefits for different social groups or regions, reflecting their social and political power. Marginalized regions can suffer manufactured territorialized water scarcity, which disturbs the natural, economic and socio-political order of water users, and as this article shows, inevitably affects their psychological wellbeing. Set in the context of the surroundings of Lake Urmia in Iran, once one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world and now a severely degraded ecosystem mainly as a result of water overuse in its watershed, this article explores how and through which pathways this manufactured water scarcity impacted the mental health of the water users in the region. The research findings reveal that alterations in this local hydro–social territory and the resulting biophysical, financial and social changes, as well as impacts on physical health of water users, relate to chronic psychological stress, social isolation, intra-community conflicts, despair, hopelessness, depression and anxiety.
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