Mental Health Patients at Risk in Summer Heatwaves

Mental Health Patients at Risk in Summer Heatwaves
Mental Health Patients at Risk in Summer Heatwaves. Credit | REUTERS

United States: Most people with mental illness are either struggling with depression or substance use disorders. As the outside temperature increases beyond 70° F, depression-related ER visits increase dramatically and linearly.

Impact of Temperature on Depression and Suicide

Similar to this, suicide rates in the United States increase by 0.7% for every 1.8 degrees that the ambient temperature rises in Fahrenheit.

Heat Stroke and Antidepressant Effects

Because earlier antidepressant drugs (TCAs) reduce perspiration and raise body temperatures, while newer antidepressant drugs (SSRIs and SNRIs) enhance sweating and can cause dehydration, people with depression are also more likely to suffer from heat stroke.

Risks for Substance Use Disorders

Many variables put the health of those who suffer from substance use disorders at risk during heat waves. Most drugs of abuse produce euphoria, which can lessen feeling of overheating and induce dangerously elevated body temperature. In reality, alcohol poisoning and drug overdose account for 18% of all heat-related deaths. While stimulants like MDMA (Ecstasy) and alcohol can worsen dehydration, they can also directly affect the hypothalamus temperature regulation system. These people lack access to drinks and air conditioning because of the poverty and homelessness that frequently accompany serious substance use problems.

Schizophrenia and Heat Wave Vulnerability

Those with schizophrenia are the most at threat of internal complaint, indeed though they make up a veritably small portion of the overall population. For individualities with schizophrenia, the chance of dying during a heat surge is three times advanced than the normal for those with any other habitual medical condition, similar as order, lung, or heart disease. Although just 1 of people have schizophrenia, during a given champaign surge, it was linked to 8opens in a new tab or window of all heat- related deaths.

These startling figures can be attributed to several factors. One contributing reason could be the strange ideas people with schizophrenia have about heat and asking for help. Moreover, schizophrenia-related homelessness and poverty might result in a lack of access to air conditioning and fluids.

Role of Medical Professionals

All of their patients who are experiencing psychiatric illnesses have higher risks, and physicians and other mental health caregivers need to be aware of this. Patients like these should be urged to use caution in hot weather and should be made aware of the steps they might take to stay cool. These include drawing down the shades, dressing comfortably, using towels or cold showers to cool off, drinking plenty of water, and remaining in air-conditioned spaces.


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