Is the sun beating you down?

Is the sun beating you down?

If you find yourself having more anxiety these days, you might not be wrong to blame the heat.

“Extreme heat can take a toll on your mental health,” says Amanda Stelzel, a behavioral health nurse practitioner at Aurora Health Care. “When the weather rises, fighting off heat-related symptoms can sometimes be difficult and mental health incidences can increase. Also, many medications people take for mental health reasons can affect their body’s ability to regulate their internal body temperature. So high temperatures can definitely be more dangerous.”

The Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) offers the following warning signs that heat might be affecting your mental health:

  • Scattered sleep pattern: Irregular sleep from excessive heat, especially during sleeping hours.
  • Mood changes: Feeling more aggressive, grumpy or anxious.
  • Trouble concentrating: Finding it more difficult to complete minor tasks.
  • Unusually stressed: Feeling more frazzled than usual or overwhelmed.

High temperatures can cause an array of physiological reactions in your body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This may range from a more superficial response, like heat rash, irritability or muscle cramps, to a more severe response, like heat stroke.

“One of the biggest things I worry about as an emergency room physician is heat stroke,” says Dr. Oyinkansola Okubanjo, an emergency medicine physician at Advocate Health Care. “Heat stroke can happen when the body is overwhelmed by heat and begins to stop functioning properly. Experiencing a heat stroke can be life-ending and it can cause a lot of serious illnesses.”

Stelzel recommends the following to stay safe both mentally and physically in extreme heat:

  • Drink a lot of fluids: Having an adequate water intake during summer heat can keep your body hydrated.
  • Keep cool: Stay indoors and in air-conditioned locations as much as possible.
  • Cancel or postpone mid-day outings: Avoid being out in the sun during the hottest part of the day.
  • Wear cool clothing: Choose light-weight, lighter-colored fabrics to minimize heat absorption.
  • Keep an extra eye on very young children and older adults: They are the most vulnerable age groups when it comes to high temperatures.

Are you trying to find a doctor? Look here if you live in Illinois. Look here if you live in Wisconsin. 

Related Posts


Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

Amber Thompson
Amber Thompson

Amber Thompson is a marketing graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. In her free time, Amber enjoys passion-filled projects including blogging and photography. Amber loves spending her free time reading journalistic columns, listening to motivational podcasts and discovering creative recipes to get her young son to eat his vegetables.