MH News: Effects Of Extreme Heath On Mental Health

Last Update on March 17, 2022 : Published on March 20, 2022
Effects of extreme heat on mental health

You must have heard about seasonal affective disorder wherein people experience depression when the season changes. Seasonal affective disorder is mostly experienced during chilly winters. I thought such depression and anxiety are only limited to seasonal changes or winters. But, a new study has revealed that extreme heat can increase emergency room visits for mental health. This study is published by the JAMA Psychiatry.

Isn’t it a little bit shocking? I understand that climate changes are drastic and have been a reason for worry for years. But, now they are a result of anxiety as well. It’s quite normal that we are concerned about our future, climate changes, global warming, and more.

JAMA Psychiatry has revealed that there is a link between extreme or high temperatures in the USA and mental health emergency room visits. This is big evidence-based research and study which is based on +3 million emergency department visits. Research shows that extreme heat is related to anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and more mental health issues. Let’s take a deep look into the research published by JAMA Psychiatry in the next section.

Digging Deep into the Research

In this research, researchers found a link between extreme heath and an increase in mental health issues. This study is based on the data of 2010-2019. This study shows that people visited emergency mental rooms due to extreme heat and mostly experienced depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and schizophrenia.

Researchers stated that the rates of emergency mental health room visits were stated to be higher, especially during extreme summers. Talking about gender, men reported experiencing more side effects of extreme heat when compared to other genders. Talking about regions, the high rates were reported in the Midwest, Northeast, and Northwest counties of the USA.

As of now, this research is the most comprehensive and largest examination of daily temperature related to mental health rooms visits. Caroline Hickman stated in a recent webinar organized by Public Policy Projects, “I’ve been listening for 10 years to children and young people telling me that they feel doomed, they feel abandoned, they feel betrayed.”

Effect of Extreme Heat on People’s Mental Health

The increased climate changes and weather events such as extreme heat, floods, and wildfires have impacted the mental health of humans directly. Psychologists have found evidence wherein it has shown that climate can actually affect mental health. In this study, extreme events like wildfires, drought, heat, humidity have possible consequences on the mental health of humans like:

  • Poor mental health for people with existing mental health issues
  • Psychological distress
  • High rates of suicide
  • Increased hospitalizations in psychiatry

The authors of this research did not limit their study to mental health but also reflected issues like unemployment, homelessness, and poverty. Additionally, they have also shown that people with pre-existing mental health issues can have worse effects of extreme heat. They have also shown that extreme heat can also result in risky behaviors like substance abuse. Additionally, famous psychologist Shamin Ladhani stated that this research will bring awareness to individuals who are prone to mental health conditions. She stated, “Research on how this might disproportionately impact low-income or underserved individuals is needed.”

She also stated, “Providing patients with additional resources like numbers for hotlines, information about cooling centers, and proactively making sure that patients are involved in mental health treatment can help. Teaching how mental health may decline in heat may empower people to monitor moods, manage sleep, and reach out when needed.”

Is it all about Climate Anxiety?

According to Suraji Wagage, this study is not only limited to anxiety, substance use, depression, or mood disorders but is also related to sleep, discomfort, irritation, and more. She theorized heat as an “external stressor.”

According to her, physical discomfort can lead to mental health issues and he extended the study beyond “climate anxiety” when talking about the effects of extreme heat on mental health. She also stated that “As with other effects of climate change, individuals living in under-resourced communities worldwide, disproportionately BIPOC, will bear the brunt of excess heat that worsens mental health.”

How to Cope with Effects of Extreme Heat on Mental Health?

Here are some quick tips to cope with the effects of extreme heat on mental health:

  • Take the support of a neighbor or a friend to check on you at regular intervals.
  • Learn the signs of your poor mental health and keep a track of them.
  • Consult a mental health advisorand ask about advanced
  • Prepare your emergency plan so that people can support you during emergencies.
  • Prepare an emergency kit.
  • Build strong social support so that you can share skills and resources related to it.

I hope this blog helps you to understand the effects of extreme heat on mental health along with tips on how to cope with it. For more such mental-health-related content, connect with us on all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

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