COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Extremely high temperatures can lead to heat-related illnesses, burns and more. What some may not realize is unprecedented heat may also impact moods.

Evidence of increased rates of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders associated with summer heatwaves have been reported by both the Mayo Clinic and American Psychiatric Association (APA) in recent years.

“Extreme heat has been associated with a range of mental health impacts in research over many years,” states the APA.

In a July 23 article, Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Dr. Robert Bright explained one study found an increase in mental health-related emergency room visits during times of extreme heat. It reported those with anxiety, mood disorders, substance abuse issues and schizophrenia were seen at higher rates than average during these periods.

“When we look at summer, what it appears to be related to is … you’ve got a limitation of your activities,” said Dr. Jayne Morgan, executive director of health and community for all Piedmont locations.

While seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is usually associated with the colder fall and winter months, health professionals report it also occurs during the summer. Those impacted by SAD experience depression and changes in mood and/or energy seasonally.

Winter SAD symptoms can include sadness, lethargy and decreased energy, Morgan explained. However, this is not necessarily always the case for those impacted in the summer.

“Those symptoms sometimes can be more like irritability, aggression, sometimes even suicide attempts,” Morgan said about summer SAD, echoing statements by the APA.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of these symptoms could be the result of a lack of sleep or increased fatigue caused by high summer temperatures. Healthline reports the ideal sleeping temperature is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit; anything higher could disrupt sleep quality.

Both Morgan and the Mayo Clinic agreed certain populations are at greater risk of experiencing heat-related issues. In particular those with cardiac disorders or using medications like beta-blockers or diuretics could be at greater risk, Morgan stated.

When it comes to wintertime SAD treatments, light therapy is often used since the seasonal depression is often linked to shorter daylight hours.

Due to the differing presentation of summertime SAD associated with extreme heat, Morgan explained treatment involves more than simply staying hydrated. A 2018 study linked drinking water with decreased risk of depression and anxiety.

“If there are activities that you would normally do outdoors, perhaps you could move them indoors and still participate,” said Morgan.

She added maintaining your normal routine and activities as much as possible is important. Doing so often provides socialization and mental stimulation beyond in addition to the adrenaline and endorphins provided by regular activity.

In 2021, APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin encouraged people to take precautions for extreme heat and look out for those who may be more susceptible.

“I think it’s important to talk about you the is impacting everyone,” said Morgan. “Mental health is definitely a topic that’s often overlooked with extreme heat.”