Video: Eco-anxiety check

By Bertha Coombs Reporter
updated 7/20/2007 11:14:56 AM ET 2007-07-20T15:14:56

Gareth Groves' dream car is now a nightmare.

The '05 Hummer he bought for $38,000 was destroyed outside his Washington, D.C home Tuesday: Windows were smashed; tires were slashed; and even more shocking was the message the vandals carved on the side — “for the environ.”

Groves said he was hurt in particular by the reference to environmental protection. Though he drives a gas guzzler, he still considers himself environment-friendly.

“We recycle at the house,” he said. “I'm not against the environment at all. I’m in absolute disbelief.”

Police believe this could be the work of homegrown “eco-terrorists,” similar to the ones who wreaked havoc at a Maryland car dealership in 2003, or the group who destroyed a $50-million San Diego housing complex, which might be deemed too luxurious and energy-consuming, the same year.

Psychologists say eco-terrorism might be an extreme display of “eco-anxiety,” the new buzz word in mental health: An increasing number of people are literally worrying themselves sick over desperate scenarios of environmental catastrophe in their mind.

“It was things like, I read an article about the whales and I can't stop crying, and I can't figure out why,” New Mexico therapist Melissa Pickett speaks of a typical symptom eco-anxious patients would describe.

Pickett specializes in treating eco-anxiety and sees up to 80 patients a month, all frantic about global warming. Other symptoms patients described to her include panic attacks, loss of appetite, irritability, and a "buzzing" under the skin — an eerie feeling that their cells are twitching.

Treating the problem is becoming a booming business, with eco-therapists like Pickett charging up to $250 an hour for the service.

“It can be overwhelming when day after day after day, you read the papers or listen to the television, and you hear what's going on out there,” Pickett said. “People start to feel a sense of helplessness.”

But global warming and the awareness promoted in the media are not the ones to blame, scientists say. Anxiety of this kind is caused by a misunderstanding of probability, like anxiety caused by the chance that a minor planet might hit London or New York. Now people just have one more reason to worry.

© 2012 CNBC, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 3.79%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.69%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.83%
Cash Back Cards 17.80%
Rewards Cards 17.18%