Summer Heat + Mental Health
As temperatures rise during the summer months, so too can the symptoms of mental health disorders. Recent research has illuminated a potential link between extreme heat and exacerbated mental health conditions. This blog aims to delve deeper into this subject, offering insights into the underlying biological mechanisms that drive this connection.
Heat's Impact on Mental Health: The Research
A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine revealed that heatwaves can lead to an increase in hospital admissions for mental health issues. Another study in Nature Climate Change showed a correlation between high temperatures and an increased risk of suicide. These and similar findings suggest a clear relationship between heat and heightened mental distress.
The biological processes that occur when our bodies respond to heat are important to understand so that they’re mitigated.
Dehydration and Brain Function: Dehydration, a common consequence of high temperatures, can significantly impact brain function. Our brains are about 75% water, so even mild dehydration can cause issues such as concentration problems, anxiety, and mood swings.
Sleep Disruptions: Heat often leads to disturbances in sleep patterns. Quality sleep is essential for mental health as it allows the brain to rest, regenerate, and process emotional information. Heat-induced sleep deprivation can intensify feelings of irritability, depression, and anxiety.
Heat Stress Response: Extreme temperatures can trigger our body’s heat stress response. This response involves the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which can exacerbate symptoms of mental health disorders. Chronic exposure to high levels of these hormones can potentially alter the brain’s structure and function, leading to long-term mental health issues.
Heat in Palm Springs
Palm Springs, situated in the heart of Southern California, is no stranger to high summer temperatures. The desert city regularly experiences summer days with temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We take this extreme heat into account in all our treatment programs and facilities, and we are well-prepared to handle the area’s summer heat.
We maintain cool, comfortable temperatures within our residential homes, have backup generators in case of outages and ensure clients stay hydrated throughout the day and avoid recreational activities that expose clients to excessive heat. This ensures clients get the most out of our evidence-based mental health care with the tranquility and beauty of our desert surroundings.