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Tired, angry, frustrated: 62% of Americans say their mood is affected by the heat, new Yahoo News/YouGov poll reveals

Do you get a little cranky when the temperatures hit the 90s? If the extreme heat is having a negative impact on your mood, you’re not alone.

In a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll of 1,754 American adults conducted between June 28 and July 1, 62% of people surveyed said “yes” when asked if extreme heat affected their mood, with 30% saying “no” and 8% saying they were “not sure.”

Most people surveyed (72%) said that extreme heat made them feel “tired,” followed by “frustrated” (40%). Others described their mood during extreme heat as “angry” (24%), “anxious” (20%), “confused” (10%) and “sad” (10%).

Dr. Jose Mayorga, executive director of the UCI Health Family Health Centers, tells Yahoo Life he’s not surprised by the results because, from a “medical standpoint and a mental and physical standpoint, it makes sense.”

Mayorga says that while most people think of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as something that only happens during the winter months, when it’s “gray, gloomy, and there’s less sunlight,” the summertime also affects mood because many people find the heat extremely uncomfortable.

There’s a physiological reason why heat can undermine your mood. For one thing, when we’re tired, we’re less likely to be happy and heat can make us feel sluggish.

The reason people feel tired when it’s hot out, Mayorga says, is due to the body’s inner workings. As your body temperature rises, your body finds ways to cool itself through processes like sweating. This uses up energy, which can make you feel more lethargic. “When you’re indoors, your body is in a certain state of balance,” he explains. “But the minute you expose yourself to an extreme, such as heat, your body tries to put yourself into a comfortable state, physically and mentally.”

Heat throws us off our body’s natural equilibrium. When we are tired and physically uncomfortable (like, say, when we’re sweating through our clothes on a hot day) we’re more likely to have a lower threshold for things that annoy us, says Mayorga, causing us to feel frustrated, anxious and irritable. Basically, “your body isn’t regulating fast enough to cool you off.”

We may lash out more easily than we would have if we were, say, inside with the air conditioner running. (Though it’s worth noting that people who stay inside in order to avoid the heat may feel cooped up, which can have its own mental health effects.)

Mayorga says that some people may be more affected than others. Certain medications can have an impact on one’s ability to regulate their temperature. This includes things like antihistamines (typically taken for seasonal allergies), as well as certain medications for mental health conditions. “You should take a close look at the medicines you are taking and see if it can influence your overall body’s temperature regulation,” he says. “If so, be more cautious of that — make sure to stay indoors in a cool space and make sure you’re staying hydrated.”

In general, Mayorga says it’s important to avoid the physical risks of spending time in heat, like heat exhaustion or heat stroke. You shouldn’t chalk up symptoms like a headache or extreme fatigue to the mental effects of the sun, and should seek medical attention if you believe you are suffering from a heat-related illness. In order to avoid this in the first place, remember to stay hydrated and find shade and other cool spaces as often as you can.

Mayorga adds that alcohol should be avoided. “Everyone likes to reach for a frozen drink or cold alcoholic beverage when it’s hot,” he says, “but we don’t want to get dehydrated in the heat. Be mindful of what you are drinking.”


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