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Worries about climate, war are many enigmas but are they a mess?

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Climate change, war and the COVID-19 pandemic are just a few of the main dangers that have more and more people worried about what the future might hold for them, but what is the best way to deal with these? anxieties: repress them and take care of your own. … live normally or be afraid, angry and anxious?

“Climate anxiety,” “COVID anxiety,” or “war anxiety” sound like the disorders they overcome best, similar to spider phobia or fear of elevators. But are they?

No, says Kathryn Macha, a psychologist and psychotherapist at the German University of Mainz. “Climate change, for example, is a real crisis, so it is justified to worry about it.”

“Crisis anxiety” is not an independent diagnosis, however. “Attesting that someone has an individual ‘anxiety attack’ that could be treated with treatment risks trivializing the crisis,” explains the expert.

Dr. Sandeep Rout, chief physician of the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine at Vivantes Neukölln Hospital in Berlin, agrees that there is no reason to regard crisis anxieties as pathological conditions. But if they lead to deep despair, inability to work and social isolation, he says, clinical anxiety disorder can develop.

There are many possible triggers of anxiety disorders. Suppose climate change is the source of a person’s anxiety; It is often difficult to provide outside help, says psychologist Amelie Schomburg, author of a book on how the climate crisis can affect the psyche.

“Many people place the weight of responsibility on their shoulders and can sink into unhealthy actionism that does them no good and can lead to burnout,” she says.

However, they do not always feel psychological stress. “Climate anxiety, in particular, is special: it’s socially acceptable and respected,” says Rout. “This sets it apart from many other types of anxiety which are often a source of shame and tend to be hidden.”

Anyone who feels their anxiety attack is improving should take enough time, advises Macha, who is active in Psychologists for Future, a Germany-based climate advocacy group inspired by Fridays for Future.

You should leave room for other things as well as your family and friends. Masha also recommends trying relaxation techniques.

“By finding a balance, you can tap into new energy for your social engagement. It’s the best medicine for crisis anxiety,” she says.

But if you still feel overwhelmed by your anxiety, you might consider seeking professional help. If you’re then diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, psychotherapy is a treatment option that can help ease your dark thoughts, Rout says.

“Some people have powerful defense mechanisms that allow them to repress or not perceive anxieties,” he notes.

However, strong defense mechanisms are counterproductive when it comes to climate change according to Macha: “Climate anxiety, in particular, wants to tell us something. It is a call to action. Repressing it is a mistake.”

According to Schomburg, the best way to deal with crisis anxiety is to share it with others and then find strength in numbers.

Masha offers similar advice. If you want to take your anxiety seriously and not let it get out of hand, you can get involved, support activist groups or exchange views with like-minded people, she says.

“You will regain control of your feelings, your helplessness will lessen, and you will do something good on top of that.”

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