Can the heat trigger mental health problems? The experts explain
Heat wave: According to medical experts, there has been an increase of around 50 percent in cases of psychosis and bipolar disorders in major hospitals and government institutes due to rising temperatures in the past two weeks. A lot, if one is to believe the doctors at King George Medical University (KGMU).
The patients, the experts said, are those who already suffer from psychological problems, and extreme heat or cold makes them vulnerable to such disorders.
However, there is nothing to worry about as the incidence of such cases is 50 in 10 lakh population and it can be prevented by taking precautions.
Doctors said that at KGMU, the number of outpatient department (OPD) cases increased from 20-25 to 30-35 per day, while at Balrampur Hospital, such cases increased from 45 to 75 per day.
KGMU department of psychiatry professor Professor Bandana Gupta said patients with psychosis may experience hallucinations, delusions or confused thinking, which can occur during manic or depressive episodes.
Similarly, bipolar disorder can involve both mania and depression.
Regarding the connection between temperature and mental disorders, Professor Gupta said: “Humans have a biological clock controlled mainly by the pituitary gland in the brain. Exposure to heat can disrupt this clock, affecting the hormones secreted by the pituitary and pineal gland, triggering psychosis and bipolar disorders.
Professor Gupta advised assistants of patients with a family history of stress, anxiety and depression to be careful during hot summers. He stressed the importance of taking necessary precautions to avoid excessive heat, such as staying indoors, drinking enough water and avoiding synthetic clothing.
Professor Gupta mentioned specific symptoms that assistants need to look out for in their patients.
These include excessive happiness, hope, and enthusiasm, as well as sudden and severe changes in mood.
Attendees should also watch for hallucinations, delusions, or confused thinking. If any of these symptoms are observed, immediate consultation with a medical professional is recommended.
Balrampur hospital psychiatrist Dr Devashish Shukla said: “These conditions are often seen in patients in their 30s. However, people should not panic as they can be cured but it is important to complete the cycle full of medication.”