April 24, 2024

How Antidepressants Increase Your Risk of Heat Stroke

  • Antidepressants can interfere with your body’s ability to regulate heat and increase your risk of heat stroke.
  • Different types of antidepressants have different effects on your body’s thermoregulation.
  • You can avoid heat stroke by drinking plenty of fluids, using a fan, and staying out of the heat.

As temperatures reached record highs this summer, the 13.2% of Americans use antidepressants extra steps need to be taken to ensure they stay cool.

Dr. Nial Wheate, associate professor of pharmacy at the University of Sydney in Australia, told Insider that antidepressants can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, meaning it can’t cool itself in the normal ways – like sweating and making you thirsty so you drink more water.

Therefore, people on antidepressants are more likely to have heat intolerance, which means they have an increased risk of heat stroke, fainting, and dehydration, according to Wheat.

Different types of antidepressants carry different risks in the heat

Wheate said different types of antidepressants carry different risks.

Tricyclic antidepressants are an older type, which usually prescribed if other treatments are ineffective.

“Tricyclic antidepressants can cause you to sweat less,” Wheate said, “because they act as anticholinergics, which means they basically stop your sweat glands from producing sweat. We sweat to cool down, so if you’re not sweating you can’t regulate your body temperature properly and you’re likely to overheat.”

On the other hand, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors make you sweat bigger. Wheate said this may be a good thing because you can lose heat from that sweat, but losing more water than you realize can lead to dehydration.

Both types of antidepressants increase your risk of heat stroke and heat-related illnesses

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion, occur when the body is unable to regulate its temperature, and can damage the brain and other vital organs, which cannot function properly at high temperatures, According to CDC.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness, and occurs when the body completely loses the ability to regulate heat and the sweating mechanism fails, so you can’t cool down. This can cause disability or even death without emergency treatment.

Among the symptoms of heat stroke: profuse sweating or hot dry skin, confusion and slurred speech, very high body temperature, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

Keep that cool stay safe in the heat

Wheate said people should not stop taking antidepressants even if they are concerned about overheating, because “managing your depression is more important.” Discuss the specific risks of your medication with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re concerned, he said.

He suggested that if you are taking tricyclic antidepressants, you should have a fan beat, so that you will sweat less, even though you are sweating. is production is more efficient in removing heat from your body.

For those on SSRIs, Wheate said the best thing you can do is drink enough to replace lost fluids. But, he said, “you don’t want to drink water – you need to drink something salty or a little sugary because when you sweat you only lose the water, you lose salts and sugars, and you need to replace those.”

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