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Feeling moody or irritable? The persistent heat may be to blame

Some mental health professionals believe extreme heat can have an impact on your mental health. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Fall is quickly approaching, but many places are still dealing with extreme heat.

We’ve seen extreme heat throughout the country and right here in central Indiana this summer.

Danyell Collins-Facteau is a Licensed Professional Counselor with Thriveworks who specializes in anxiety, stress, coping skills, and depression.

Collins-Facteau and other mental health professionals believe persistent, extreme heat can affect your mood and increase anxiety around climate change.

What impact can persistent heat can have on one’s mood?

“Persistent heat is a stressor on the body and stress exacerbates mental health conditions. Heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can impact one’s mood as they can cause tiredness, weakness, headache, lightheadedness, confusion, and changes in our pulse rate. These physical changes can lead to changes in mood to include exhaustion, irritability, and even aggression,” said Collins-Facteau.

“Persistent heat can also disrupt one’s sleep and appetite, negatively impacting the mood by leading to fatigue, exhaustion, and irritability,” said Collins-Facteau.”The effectiveness of certain medications and/or typical side effects from some medications can also be negatively impacted by persistent heat. For example, diuretics can cause increased urine output, leading to dehydration, mental status changes, and confusion.”

What is climate anxiety? How can those experiencing it cope? 

“Climate anxiety is commonly described as a ‘chronic fear of environmental doom.’ While not a medical diagnosis, the term has gained popularity and is being used to describe a collection of symptoms triggered by long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns. Common signs include a sense of being overwhelmed and helpless related to climate change, feeling on edge or worried about the future related to climate change, and loss of sleep due to worries about the environment,” Collins-Facteau said.

“To help cope, acknowledge your worries or fears by connecting with your support network, which could include friends, family, and/or a mental health professional. Journaling and creative expressions may also be useful outlets to express your feelings.”

Collins-Facteau recommends the following ways to find calm in those moments around climate concerns out of one’s control.

“Practice mindfulness strategies to regain focus and control over the present moment. Meditation, grounding, and breathing exercises are beneficial as they aim to regulate the nervous system, the system that dysregulates when feeling anxious,” said Collins-Facteau.

While the persistent heat is likely to cool off soon, stay safe and well-hydrated in the meantime.