Heatwaves Threaten Mental Health, Warn Experts

AUSTIN, Texas – As the scorching triple-digit temperatures continue to plague Central Texas, experts are warning of the impact that extreme heat in the summer can have on mental health. While seasonal depression is commonly associated with the winter months, therapists are seeing an increasing number of individuals affected by the unrelenting heat.

According to Christopher Hansen, a therapist at Austin-based Thriveworks, the prolonged duration of extreme heat is taking its toll on people who would typically not be affected. “The longer this goes on, I do think that you see people that normally wouldn’t be affected. It’s starting to take a toll,” states Hansen, highlighting the growing concern over this issue.

Contrary to popular belief, seasonal depression is not limited to the winter season. Hansen explains that extreme heat or other adverse weather conditions can trigger similar symptoms of depression and anxiety. “A lot of people just associate seasonal affective disorder with darkness and cold, etc. But extreme heat or extreme conditions can cause the same type of symptoms, basically depression or anxiety,” adds Hansen.

The impact of the summer heat on mental health is largely attributed to the isolation individuals face as they are forced to stay indoors for extended periods. Hansen emphasizes the multifaceted nature of this issue, stating, “It’s multifaceted. People start isolating because they can’t go outside, maybe because of health reasons. They’re isolated socially. So they become lonely. They become needy and anxious and definitely depressed.”

To combat summertime seasonal affective disorder, Hansen suggests a few strategies. Seeking a support system through online video calls or regular phone conversations can provide individuals with a sounding board to share their feelings and concerns. Consulting with a therapist is also recommended to receive professional guidance and support.

Despite the challenges, there is hope for those struggling with seasonal affective disorder. Hansen reassures that the extreme heat is temporary and will eventually subside, allowing people to resume their normal routines. “This is short period of time. And it will resolve and it will get better. Usually with seasonal affective disorder, you remove the weather and a lot of people tend to go back to kind of status quo, normal,” explains Hansen, offering a glimmer of optimism.

It is important to note that the extreme heat may interfere with the effectiveness of antidepressant medications for those already receiving treatment. If this is the case, individuals are advised to consult with their doctors to discuss any necessary adjustments to their medication regimens.

As Central Texas continues to battle the sweltering summer heat, it becomes imperative to acknowledge the potential mental health repercussions caused by these extreme weather conditions. By raising awareness and providing support, individuals can better manage the challenges of summertime seasonal affective disorder and emerge stronger on the other side.

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