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  • Writer's pictureUnified Brain Health Care

Why Hot Summers Mess up the Mind?

Dr. Porrselvi A.P., Founder, Clinical Lead, Cognitive Neuropsychologist, Unified Brain Health Care


Summer's here, and while we have been enjoying the mangoes and vacations, many of you might have felt that the scorching heat is wreaking havoc on our minds as well as our bodies. A recent article by the American Psychological Association (APA) highlights how extreme temperatures can affect our mental well-being (https://www.apa.org/monitor/2024/06/heat-affects-mental-health).


According to Jane Gilbert, the world's first Chief Heat Officer, heat can worsen symptoms of depression and irritability, and even trigger psychotic episodes. Disrupted sleep due to discomfort and the extra strain on our bodies in hot weather can cloud our judgement and make us more prone to anger. Studies have shown that people in hot environments are more likely to make decisions that harm others, even if it doesn't benefit them.


Here's a breakdown of the key factors:


Disrupted Sleep: The discomfort and extra strain on your body caused by heat makes it harder to get a good night's sleep. This sleep deprivation can cloud your judgment, increase irritability, and make you more prone to anger.


Impact on Neurotransmitters: Heat might affect the production or function of neurotransmitters, like serotonin, which regulate mood and impulse control. Lower serotonin levels can contribute to feelings of depression, anxiety, and aggression.


Physiological Stress:  Your body works harder to cool itself down in hot weather. This constant state of physiological stress can have a ripple effect on your mental well-being, mirroring symptoms of anxiety and making you feel on edge.


Cognitive Decline: Studies suggest that extreme heat can temporarily impair cognitive function, making it harder to concentrate, focus, and make decisions. This can be frustrating and contribute to feelings of helplessness.


Heat and Psychotropic Medication

It's important to note that heat can also interact with certain medications, including psychotropic medications. If you take medication for a mental health condition, it's important to talk to your doctor about how heat might affect you and whether you need to adjust your medication dosage during the summer months.


Vulnerability of Certain Groups: Children and older adults are especially susceptible to the mental health effects of heat. Their bodies may have a harder time regulating temperature, and developing brains in children may be more vulnerable to the impacts of heat stress.


Children and the Heat

Children are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of heat on mental health. A 2023 report by APA and ecoAmerica found that young people are particularly at risk, given the potential impact of heat-related mental health effects on developing brains. Studies have found that heat exposure can increase self-reported impulsivity in children.


So, the next time you feel like snapping at your loved ones because of the heat, take a deep breath! It's a good reminder to be kind to ourselves and others during this scorching season. Be sure to check in on children and older adults more frequently as they may be more susceptible to the negative effects of heat.


For psychologogical help, reach out to contact@ubhcare.com or WhatsApp on +919047452258.

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