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Illustration by Ada Jusic @adajusic


Embarking on my journey in energy and sustainable development, my primary goal was clear: to reduce energy consumption while prioritizing environmental sustainability. However, I was unprepared for the vast amount of information I would encounter, unveiling the critical state of our planet and humanity’s ongoing contribution to its degradation. The realization that the climate crisis permeates every aspect of our lives, influencing choices from clothing to the contents of our fridges, revealed a significant issue rooted in broken systems. Learning about all this put me in a mental state that I couldn’t quite define, and I believe I’m not alone in experiencing such sentiments. It wasn’t until recently that I found the language to articulate and navigate these overwhelming feelings, now recognized as eco-anxiety.

What does the term eco-anxiety mean?

Eco-anxiety is “A chronic fear of environmental doom.”, as defined by the American Psychological Association . Some describe it as pre-traumatic stress, as it is an anxiety anticipating the uncertain effects of climate change. Affected individuals live with the psychological consequences of this fear of the future, which prevents them from projecting themselves into the future in a peaceful manner.

Eco-anxiety and solastalgia:

“Solastalgia” is defined as “The lived experience of negatively perceived change to a home environment.” It is a term coined to characterize a form of discomfort or emotional unease that individuals undergo due to the adverse effects of environmental change, specifically alterations in their home environment. The term is a blend of “sola,” signifying comfort or solace, and “algia,” indicating pain or suffering.

These relatively recent terms delineate distinct ways of perceiving our connection with the environment and biosphere, especially concerning their alteration and degradation. Semantically, solastalgia captures the distress and sorrow felt in connection with the condition of one’s immediate surroundings.

The difference between solastalgia and eco-anxiety lies in the relationship with time. Here, emotions are felt a posteriori through the loss of our familiar environment.


Eco-anxiety’s symptoms:

While not yet classified as a diagnosable mental disorder, experts commonly define eco-anxiety by a range of symptoms, which encompass:

  •       Obsessive thoughts about the climate
  •       Fatalistic thinking (“Since it’s too late to save the planet, why bother trying?”)
  •       Feelings of guilt associated with one’s personal carbon footprint
  •       Anger or frustration directed at older generations or government officials perceived as not taking sufficient actions to mitigate climate change.
  •       Grief and sadness over the loss of natural environments
  •       Solastalgia
  •       Trouble sleeping or concentrating

Working with climate anxiety:

Addressing climate anxiety requires recognizing the emotional impact of environmental issues and devising coping strategies. This involves cultivating a sense of agency through personal sustainable actions, seeking support from social circles, and participating in collective endeavors to tackle climate change. Therapeutic approaches, like counseling or psychoeducation, offer tools to manage anxiety and enhance emotional well-being amid climate-related concerns. Building a connection with nature and promoting awareness of positive environmental initiatives are integral to fostering a more balanced and empowered outlook on climate anxiety.



« Mental health and our changing climate : impacts, implications, and guidance », American Psychological Association (2017)

 « Solatalgie, écoanxiété,…les nouveaux maux » Dr Alice Desbiolles

« Mental health and our changing climate : impacts, implications, and guidance », American Psychological Association (2017)

Adams M. Coming Back Down to Earth: Exploring Distress, Loss and Grief in the Anthropocene. Mad in the UK, 2020. ( [Google Scholar]

Bednarek S. Is there a therapy for climate-change anxiety? Ther Today 2019; 30: 36–9. [Google Scholar]

A propos de Imane SAHLI

Ingénieure en Énergétique et Énergies Renouvelables avec double facette technique et réglementaire en énergie