It is widely known that temperature can have implications on the human body and how people function in their day to day lives. Research has shown that not only can it affect someone physically, it can affect them mentally also.
During the winter months, we can be affected by something called SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder (see my blog post Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)) where cold temperatures and lack of sunlight can cause many people to feel depressed during this time.
In the summer months, we can be effected by extreme heat. This is evidenced by an increase in psychiatric hospitalisations when the weather becomes extremely hot. We have also seen an increase in violent crimes, irritability, suicidality and angry mood during the summer months.
There are many types of medication that can make it more difficult for people during a heat wave. For example, a property of some anti-psychotic medications is that it can increase one’s sensitivity to heat. There are also other medications who make it necessary that the user limits exposure to sunlight, so it is important to consult with your doctor if you believe your medication may be impacting you in the heat.
Research has shown that people over the age of 65 are more vulnerable to the physical and mental impact that heat can have.
If you want to improve your mental health over the coming hot summer months it is important to stay hydrated – drink LOTS of water, wear a hat and sunglasses or any other sun protective gear you have, if you need to go out try and schedule it for the morning or evening when the sun isn’t so intense. If you’re required to be in the sun for things such as employment, it is a good idea to talk with your GP about how you might be able to protect yourself during a heat wave. Most importantly, if you feel like you’re having difficulty or your psychological wellbeing is deteriorating – talk to someone. Be it a trusted friend, loved one or health professional, reach out.