Doctors warn people taking antidepressants to be careful during hot weather

·2 min read

Those who take certain medications for their mental health, such as some types of antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs, have been warned to stay extra alert during the ongoing heatwave and when in hot weather generally (such as while on holiday in a sunny countries). The ex-head of the Royal College of Psychiatrist, Dr Wendy Burn, has said that some medication may impact on body temperature control and have other side effects related to heat.

Dr Burn added that some medication may also cause people to sweat more than normal, make it more difficult to register when they're thirsty or leave their skin more sensitive to the sun causing a reaction (so it's more important than ever to use a high factor SPF, that has five stars on the bottle and offers both UVA and UVB protection).

Not all antidepressants have this side effect though, it's important to note, but evidence does seem to suggest there's a link between tricyclic antidepressants, antipsychotics and heat-related illnesses. Tricyclic antidepressants are not as regularly prescribed as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which work by boosting the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Photo credit: Grace Cary - Getty Images
Photo credit: Grace Cary - Getty Images

Where possible, Dr Burn told the BBC, it's best if those on tricyclic antidepressants or antipsychotic medications spend plenty of time in the shade, drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and strenuous activity. She also advises taking cool showers and says to keep taking your medication regularly – do not suddenly stop whilst abroad or during the heatwave.

And lastly, if you have any concerns whatsoever with regards to the mental health medication you take (and how it might impact you during hot weather), it's always worth reaching out to your GP or popping into a local pharmacy for a chat with a medical professional.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

To learn more about how to support a loved one struggling with their mental health, reach out to Mind – the infoline is open Monday to Friday, 9am - 6pm, and can be reached at 0300 123 3393. There are also mental health resources on the Mind website.

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