Heatwaves, Antidepressants and You

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Silouette of and hot sun beating down on them

Many of my clients are already taking antidepressant medication by the time they get to my clinic. The side-effects of these drugs means that if you are taking them, you need to be extra cautious during the current heatwave in the UK.

Antidepressants – some basic facts

Around one in 6 or 7 of the adult population of the UK take antidepressants (that’s 8.3 million according to the NHS – out of an adult population of around 53 million).

Antidepressants are used to treat more than just depression. They are also used to treat various forms of anxiety (including generalised anxiety, social anxiety, PTSD, OCD and phobias), eating disorders such as bulimia, long-term chronic pain (such as MS) and bedwetting.

There are various types of antidepressants, including tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors). They all work to alter the brain chemistry, but each in a slightly different way.

The Heatwave

The UK is currently undergoing a heatwave, and is likely to continue to have more frequent heatwaves in the future. The Met Office issued its first ever Red Warning for extreme heat, and the highest ever temperature to have been recorded in the UK was verified in Conningsby (40.3 degrees C / 104.5 degrees F).

Side-effects of Antidepressants

Antidepressants all have side effects that impact different people in different ways. Of particular importance during the current heatwave, some drugs …

  • prevent the body from regulating its temperature properly
  • cause people to sweat excessively
  • stop registering thirst properly
  • make the skin more sensitive to sunlight

There is evidence that suggests a link between a link between some antidepressants and heat-related illnesses.

Anti-psychotic drugs

A much small number of people in the UK are taking anti-psychotic drugs (one in one or two hundred). If you are one of these – the same applies – there is a link with heat-related illnesses

So what?

This blog is basically a warning to the millions of people on antidepressants and anti-psychotics – for whatever reason. You may be more susceptible to heat-related problems – and the drugs you are on may prevent you from realising you have a problem.

Of course – you should keep taking your medication, just be sensible – drink plenty, stay cool … you know the drill. There’s plenty of advice out there on how to deal with the hot weather – just be sensible about it.

For more information



Photo by Andrey Grinkevich on Unsplash

Tim Maude

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