With the increase in temperature, are Heat Waves now increasing the probability of Seasonal Affective Disorder?


Seasonal Affective Disorder is not just limited to winter anymore with the kind of heatwave this year. The scorching heat has swept the peace across the Indian boundaries with each state breaking a record of its maximum temperature.

How can Seasonal affective disorder grow from winter to summer?

SAD, that is, Seasonal Affective Disorder is often associated with winter. During winter, the weather gets dark and gloomy. Lack of exposure to natural light is one of the biggest factors for seasonal disruption of mental health and well-being. Many people have reported experiencing common mental illnesses during winter. People who were already struggling with mental illness seemed to have a worsened state of mind. But with such climate change and global warming, heat waves have crossed the bearable levels of humans.

Read More: How To Beat Winter Blues: Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is causing Seasonal Affective Disorder in summer?

For such a heightened heat effect, the increase in temperature is found to be directly linked with an increase in both irritability as well as transitions in mood. When sunlight goes beyond its maximum bearable and healthy limit, our body faces turmoil in the circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is a form of biological clock that is present in each of us, determining our physical as well as mental and behavioural changes over a span of 24 hours. External factors such as colours, lights and temperature have a significant impact on the smooth maintenance of our circadian rhythm.

Along with this, the production of serotonin in the brain is a hormone that has been found to impact our mood magnificently. It is often associated with the traits of satisfaction, and optimism, hence the name the happy hormone. With too much scorching sunlight lack of serotonin production is witnessed causing low mood. If it is continued for a prolonged period of time, severe mental illness can develop hampering overall well-being.

Signs and Symptoms

Irritability and mood swings are the leading symptoms. This is followed by loss of energy in day-to-day life and an increased level of anxiety. Difficulty in sleep due to temperature increase has been signified by a lot of studies for all age groups. A sense of restlessness is found consistent with heat waves.

For people who are already dealing with mental illnesses like depression, following a set routine is one of the most effective coping strategies. This gets disrupted when plans and schedules are compromised due to excruciating heatwaves in the summer.

A state of loneliness may spawn when socializing is reduced. With a surge in the lack of social gatherings, some people may feel a tendency of separation anxiety when they see a low frequency of socio-emotional support.

Read More: Indian States Facing Hazards of Heatwave: Does It Affect You Mentally?

Dealing with it

The very first step is having awareness about the signs and symptoms that persist within the body. Seasonal Affective Disorder is quite unknown and is often misconceived as a winter phenomenon only. Wearing light cotton can help with the state of restlessness. Proper intake of fluids and staying hydrating is a must, especially when heat triggers anxiety levels. Therapeutic support can be sought after; a professional can help and mentor in the direction of strategically combating the heatwaves of this year.

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