Hot weather warning to millions who take antidepressants as temperatures hit 28C this weekend | The Sun
23rd June 2023

BRITS taking some mental health medications have been warned to be extra cautious in hot weather.

With temperatures forecast to hit 28C this weekend, it's important to be aware of the potential dangers – but don't suddenly stop taking your pills.

Medics have warned that some antidepressants and anti-psychotics may affect how your body regulates temperature.

Certain drugs can also cause takers to sweat excessively, not register thirst, or make their skin more sensitive to the sun.

Dr Laurence Wainwright, a researcher at the University of Oxford's psychiatry department, told the BBC there is "evidence to suggest a link between tricyclic antidepressants, antipsychotics and heat-related illnesses".

"In some cases, the body is not able to regulate temperature effectively," he said.

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"The problems that can stem from that include muscle cramps, fainting, heatstroke, heat rash and heat exhaustion.

"Also, [typically] the body has a good way of telling us when we are thirsty, but these medications can diminish that – and they can also lower blood pressure slightly, which can lead to a chance of fainting in the heat."

Tricyclics are an older type of antidepressants which are still licensed for use in the UK though they're "no longer usually recommended as the first treatment for depression", according to the NHS.

But they might be given to people with severe depression that fail to respond to other treatments.

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Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which increase the level of serotonin in the brain, are now used more frequently.

SSRIs also come with their own side effects in hot weather.

One of the most common is excessive sweating, which can be exacerbated when it's hot outside.

This can lead to dehydration, as well as dizziness, headaches and fainting.

Dr Wendy Burn warned Brits taking anti-psychotic medication and antidepressants to take care as we prepare for another scorching weekend.

She suggested you:

  • use a high factor sunscreen and stay out of direct sunlight, as antipsychotics and antidepressants can make your skin to be more sensitive to sunlight and lead to skin reactions
  • keep as cool as possible and make sure you drink plenty of water
  • follow standard heatwave advice, such as keeping curtains and windows closed, wear loose light clothing made of natural materials, such as cotton and linen, and wear a hat when outside
  • avoid strenuous physical activity and alcohol, and take cool baths or showers to bring your temperature down

She emphasised that those struggling with the side effects from their drugs should not come off them without consulting their doctor or specialist.

A Sun on Sunday probe found in July 2022 that that 8.3million people took pills to cope with conditions such as depression and anxiety the previous year.

And between January and March 2022, about 21million prescriptions of antidepressant drugs were issued in England, according to data published by the NHS Business Services Authority.

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This doesn't necessarily correspond to the amount of people taking them.

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