For months after Hurricane Sandy sent nearly six feet of water surging into her home in Long Beach, N.Y. — an oceanfront city along Long Island’ s south shore — retired art teacher Marcia Bard Isman woke up many mornings feeling anxious and nauseated. She had headaches, and inexplicable bouts of sadness. She found herself crying for no apparent reason.
“I would feel really sad, and that’s just not me,” she said. “I felt like the joy was out of my life. I still haven’t recaptured it.”
What Isman is experiencing is one of the little-recognized consequences of climate change, the mental anguish experienced by survivors in the aftermath of extreme and sometimes violent weather and other natural disasters. The emotional toll of global warming is expected to become a national — and potentially global — crisis that many mental health experts warn could prove far more serious than its physical and environmental effects.
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