During these warmer days, it’s important to stay protected from the sun and stay on top of your SPF applications but if you’re on certain types of medications, you’re at a much higher risk of sun-induced illness and injuries.
1 in 10 people in the UK are on mental health medications. These fall under a number of different categories including Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) Antipsychotic Drugs (ACDs), and beta blockers which are often used to treat anxiety. All of these types of medication can make you more intolerant to increased heat and at risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Why Do Mental Health Medications Make People Sensitive To Heat?
So, while for many of us mental health medications are essential for our well being and functioning as they provide relief from the symptoms of our conditions, they can impact our thermoregulation – the body’s way of controlling its internal temperature.
According to licensed psychiatrist Dr Deborah Serani, “medications can interfere with hypothalamic-set body temperature, impede the thermoreceptors (nerve endings that detect temperature on our skin and skeletal muscles), and reduce or accelerate sweat production.”
All mental health medications can put you at an increased risk of heat intolerance, hypertension, fainting from heat, reduced alertness in heat, and lethargy and confusion in heat.
This is actually the case year-round but it only feels more apparent in warmer months because the heat outside almost magnifies the internal heat in your body.
How To Cope With Heat Intolerance
Dr Wendy Burn, a psychiatrist recommends those who are struggling with heat intolerance:
- Use high factor sunscreen and stay out of direct sunlight
- Keep as cool as possible and drink plenty of water
- Follow standard heatwave advice, such as keeping curtains and windows closed, wear loose light clothing made of natural materials, such as cotton and linen, and wear a hat when outside
- Avoid strenuous physical activity and alcohol, and take cool baths or showers to bring your temperature down
- Speak to your doctor before coming off medication