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Medical professionals say high heat causes more anger, stress

Posted at 5:39 PM, Aug 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-25 12:17:20-04

It’s not just a myth that crime and violence can go up in summer months.

Studies show people feel increased anger when the temperature rises outside.

IU Health Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry Dr. David Diaz says this happens due to stress on the body.

“The body interprets [the heat] as a dangerous thing, so we can get into the fight or flight response,” Diaz said.

Diaz says blood pressure levels can rise as a result of the stress hormone, cortisol.

“People produce more cortisol, which can lead to irritability. In some cases, if can lead to confusion, if it’s an older person or someone on a lot of medication,” Diaz said.

Diaz says there are certain medications that puts users at a higher risk for overheating or dehydrating. He suggests looking into the side effects and contacting medical professionals if any issues arise.

“I’m not saying don’t take your medications, but I’m saying make sure you stay hydrated,” Diaz said.

Diaz says we need to remember to give ourselves a break and give each other extra grace. However, it’s not always easy with the conditions our body faces.

“Things can seem potentially more threatening or more antagonistic than normal. There’s a fair amount of road rage anyway, but at this time of the year it can be higher and more serious,” Diaz said.

Professionals say you should stay away from exercising in the heat while it’s so hot and use air conditioning if you have it. If not, they recommend finding a cooling center nearby.

“Count to some number — five. 10 is probably better, but take a couple of seconds before you react,” Diaz said.

Other tips include being aware of your triggers, taking a few breaths and focusing on what is within your control.