What is Nature Deficit Disorder And How To Know If You Have It

The Doctor Weighs In
6 min readJun 26, 2019

By: Sarah Williams

Nature Deficit Disorder is a term that describes what we experience when we don’t have enough contact with Mother Nature. The remedy may be just beyond the front door.

Once upon a time, parents would yell out to the back yard for their children to come inside for dinner. It would have been unfathomable to imagine that one day the tables would be turned and parents would be yelling for their children to go outside once in a while.

But here we are. In a day and age where technology rules almost every aspect of our lives, adults and children alike are spending less and less time with nature and more time under the spell of blue light emitted from every device under the sun (or, quite frankly, not under the sun).

Things have gotten so bad that the term Nature Deficit Disorder has been applied to what we experience when we are lacking enough contact with mother earth. Though not a term you’ll find in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) yet, many scientists believe that it will be soon.

What exactly is Nature Deficit Disorder?

In 2005, author Richard Louv coined the phrase in his best selling book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.” As you’ll find on Wikipedia, Nature Deficit Order is the belief that people, especially children, are spending so little time with nature that it is acutely affecting their behavior in negative ways making them unable them to achieve a peaceful mind and happiness.

It’s not meant to be a medical diagnosis (yet). Instead, Richard Louv has said that the term should

“encompass a description of the human costs of alienation from the natural world”.

Framing the problem in this way forces us to look at the fact that we and our children are suffering because of our lack of exposure to nature.

What causes Nature Deficit Disorder

Is it because of the smartphones parents are handing out like candy these days? Or is it due to extended workday hours confined to…

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