Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Study finds link between mountaintop-removal coal mining and depression in Central Appalachia

People who live near mountaintop-removal coal mines are more likely to suffer from depression than those who live in areas where the practice doesn't occur, according to a study by West Virginia University, published in Ecopsychology. The study, which sampled 8,591 adults in the region, found that 17 percent of those living in areas with mountaintop removal showed signs of depression, compared to 10 percent in other areas. 

Researchers said the "disparity was partly attributable to socioeconomic disadvantage, but after statistical control for income, education and other risks, depression risk for residents in the mountaintop removal area remained significantly elevated. This study contributes to the empirical evidence in support of the concept of solastalgia and indicates that persons who experience environmental degradation from mountaintop removal coal mining are at elevated risk for depression."

"Solastalgia is a term coined to describe this placebased distress engendered by unwelcome environmental change," Ken Ward of The Charleston Gazette explains on his Coal Tattoo blog, citing a similar study from last year. "Solastalgia is a psychoterratic mental health issue; that is, it is an earth-related mental health problem stemming from negatively perceived and felt environmental change. Solastalgia is especially distressing for those who directly witness the destruction of their home environment and who feel intimately connected to the place in which they are rooted." (Read more)

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