Experts say extreme summer heat can impact mental health

You’ve heard about seasonal depression in the winter, but experts say extreme heat in the summer—like the triple-digit temperatures we’ve seen across Central Texas—can impact your mental health as well. 

"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," said Christopher Hansen, a therapist with Austin-based Thriveworks.

Hansen says seasonal depression doesn’t just happen in the winter.

"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," said Hansen.

A lot of that, Hansen says, has to do with isolation from staying inside too much.

"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."

Hansen says there are several things you can do to deal with summertime seasonal affective disorder. 

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"Definitely try to find a support system, whether it be online video calls, calling people, doing things that you can do, having a sounding board if possible, seeing a therapist if possible," said Hansen.

The good news? This, too, shall pass. 

"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," said Hansen.

If you’re already taking antidepressants, the extreme heat can sometimes interfere with those medications. If that’s the case with you, you should discuss this with your doctor.