How the heat can affect your mental health

Reporter: Amy Galo Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

There are many physical risks to the heat regarding dehydration or heatstroke, but the heat can take a toll on your mental health as well.

Experts are saying this is a time of year when people seem to be reaching out for help more regularly. That’s because the physical discomfort heat brings can lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression.

The physical discomfort heat brings might make you change up your routine or perhaps make you avoid going outside altogether, but shutting in can lead to feelings of loneliness.

“We again are forced to be indoors or isolated away from our friends or family, maybe not doing our normal activities, then certainly that can lead to more depressed feelings, sadness, isolation, anxiety for a lot of individuals,” said Melissa Bogle, FGCU psychiatric nurse.

And the high heat can also amplify symptoms.

“When there’s too much heat that we’re exposed to, it actually increases our cortisol levels, which affects our serotonin levels, and that regulates our mood,” said Charles Patti, from My Self Wellness.

And those mood shifts can get dangerous.

“It’s also been linked with more serious things such as aggression, domestic violence, suicide,” Bogle said.

So what can you do to keep your mind healthy this summer? Well, it all starts with keeping your body healthy.

“I would definitely suggest eating lighter, healthier, maybe stay away from fried foods, things like that, and definitely watch alcohol consumption if you do drink, and make sure you do replenish yourself with hydration,” Patti said.

Because if you’re dehydrated, your mind will feel it too.

“Our body is just not meant to function very well, including our brain, when you’re in a state of dehydration,” Bogle said.

If you or a loved one takes psychiatric medications, such as mood stabilizers, mental health professionals say it’s important you drink lots of water, as these can make you more prone to dehydration in the first place.

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