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With heatwaves becoming more common - even in Northern Ireland - it's more important than ever to understand the impact hot weather can have on your mental health. Your medication effects, your sleep, and your routine can all be disrupted by hot weather. Here are 4 tips for looking after your mental health when the mercury is rising.
If you're taking medication for your mental health - especially if you're taking antipsychotics - it's really important to be aware that most antipsychotic medication impairs the body's ability to regulate temperature, meaning that you can over-heat more quickly than someone who isn't taking medication. It's a good idea to check out the side effects of your medication - you can find this information in the leaflet in the box, or online.
Examples of antipsychotic medication include:
Although they're usually prescribed to you if you have symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, they are sometimes prescribed to you if you experience symptoms of depression, anxiety or borderline personality disorder.
Older tricyclic antidepressants also have this effect. Examples of these medications are:
Some SSRIs (such as Sertraline, Citalopram and Fluoxetine) can also affect how much you sweat - making you sweat more in hot temperatures. It's therefore really vital that you're drinking enough to replace the lost fluids.
Being aware that your medication impacts how you respond to hotter temperatures mean you can take steps to avoid it. You might also want to talk to your CPN or GP about ways to stay safe in the sun.
Heat exhaustion can affect anyone, but people taking psychiatric medication are more at risk, as are people who are very young or elderly. If you know someone who is at risk of heat exhaustion, it's also worth knowing the signs and what to do.
The signs of heat exhaustion include:
If you or someone else is experiencing heat exhaustion, the most important thing is to cool down.
If someone doesn't cool down within 30 minutes, then seek medical help as this can be a symptom of heatstroke, which is a medical emergency.
Symptoms of heatstroke include:
You can take steps to prevent heat exhaustion by:
Lack of sleep can be a trigger for many mental health conditions, especially bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety disorders. It can be much harder to get good quality sleep in hot weather. As well as the heat, hot weather can disrupt our normal routines which can make it more difficult to wind down.
If you're living with a mental health issue, it's important to prioritise rest. In hot weather, here are some things to try:
Hot weather can make us all grumpy and short-tempered. It can be difficult to think straight when you're wiping sweat off your brow. If you're finding that you're being more snappy, irritable, or angrier than usual, maybe try some self-care techniques that work for you to help. If your mood is deteriorating badly and you are experiencing suicidal feelings, then it's important to get urgent help.